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( Al-urghan al-jami' li-jami' al-aswat.) 
Bairut MS. (Al-Mashriq, ix.) 

Frontispiece to the 
Organ of the Ancients. 


The Organ of ■. .- 
: : the Ancients 


(Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic) J^t^s *** Pi • 


' A' 


Carnegie Research Fello-tr 



Hon. Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians 


- LONDON, W.C.2. — 




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2>eoicateo to 
iRobert Sangster IRait, 

C.3B.3S., flS.2*., 3L1L.2). 

Zbe principal anO Wfce=GbanceUor 
of Zbe TUnivetsftB of ©lasgow. 

Printed by The New Temule Press, Norbury Creaoent, London, Great Britain. 







WHEN I was invited by Dr. Farmer to contribute 
a foreword to his treatise on The Organ of the 
Ancients, I accepted the offer with great pleasure, 
partly because I considered it a privilege and also for the 
reason that I have for a long time been interested in the 
early history of the instrument, and more especially, in 
that of the water organ or hydraulis. During the years 
1900-4, stimulated by the researches of M. Clement Loret 1 
and Dr. Charles Maclean, 8 I was able, through careful 
retranslations of descriptions given by Heron, Vitruvius 
and (for the scale an anonymous classical author), 3 to con- 
struct a working model of the hydraulis, taking as its 
^design a representation preserved by a small statuette of 
the early part of the second century A.D. discovered at 
Carthage. There is no need for me to describe its details 
here, for illustrations and particulars of this organ have 
frequently been published, the readiest to hand being 
those set out under its name in Grove's Dictionary of 
Music. With the help of the late Mr. C. F. Abdy Wil- 
liams/ a life-long friend and recognised authority on 

1 Becherches sur I'orgue hydraulique. (Extr. from Bevue ar- 
cheologique, 1890.) 

2 The Principle of the Hydraulic Organ. (In S.I.M.G., vi, 

3 Anonymi Scriptio de Musica: Ed. Bellermann, pp. 94-5. 

>> The author of The Story of the Organ, and The Story of Organ 


Greek music, we were able to give renderings of original 
Delphic hymns with voice, kithara and hydraulis at a 
lecture in the Fishmongers' Hall, London. 5 The organ 
with its manual of nineteen keys and three stops, came 
through the ordeal triumphantly, even in the solo work, 
and we afforded a practical demonstration of its true 
principles, dispelling some of the ludicrous theories about 
its construction which were commonly current. And now 
having reluctantly, but by the author's desire, said thus 
much about myself, I turn gladly from personalities to 
the work which Dr. Farmer is presenting to us. 

As will have been observed, the writers consulted by me 
with reference to this once popular form of organ were 
those living about the commencement of our present era. 
From that time, or shortly after, there seems to stretch out 
a vast silence on the subject; the so-called "Dark Ages" 
rested like a pall over the scene; knowledge was confined 
to the few ; men were fighters rather than thinkers ; and 
though here and there come glimmers, reflected in Greek 
and Roman carvings and coins focussed for us by 
M. C.-E. Ruelle," M. H. Leclercq, 7 and other writers in 
their published researches, they are not sufficiently clear 
to give the light we need or the guidance we desire on the 
upward path of the organ. What was happening to it 
during the eight hundred years and more ere Western 
Europe woke to new knowledge? What fresh inventions 
had been thought out ? What new improvements added ? 

s See my Notes on a Soman Ilydraulus. (Estr. from The Eeli- 
ouani 1904 and The Water-Organ of the Ancients and the Organ 
of To-day. 'in The Story of English Music, 1904.) 

6 Diet des antiquites grecques et romaines, iii, art. " Hydrau- 
lus" (1900). 

7 Diet, d'archiologie chretienne et de liturgie, vii (1), art "In- 
struments de musique " (1926). 


Yet, notwithstanding the devastating havoc of war, 
many of the records of the past and passing years were 
preserved for the day, when, in the Land of the Dawn 
there arose a brilliancy of intellectual power and scientific 
inquiry unparalleled save by that of our own schoolmen 
and gildmasters of the later Middle Ages. From the 
eighth to the thirteenth centuries this rich and refined cul- 
ture prevailed over Nearer Asia, as indeed it had flourished 
there in art and handicraft more than four thousand years 
before. In those far distant days Sumerian and Semite 
had delighted in the development and consorts of their 
lyres and harps, flutes and drums, sistra and timbrels; 
and now, in newly founded Baghdad, their successors 
devoted their skill to the perfecting of the like art and 
practice of music and to the systematic translation of the 
finest treatises of Greek and Syrian writers obtainable. 

Thus they built up a literary fame and constructive 
reputation which spread not only eastward, but westward 
to the great trade marts of Constantinople and Venice, 
and through northern Africa, to the shores of Spain, Cor- 
dova rivalling Baghdad in educational and technical 
prowess. In this way, during those years of western ob- 
scurity, the discoveries and devices of the centuries as they 
sped were preserved to us ; but unfortunately in languages 
inaccessible to most. We have had, it is true, peeps be- 
hind the scenes. Since Ugolinus 8 gave us his masterly 
versions in Latin of the writings of Hebrew rabbis, we 
have received, within the last hundred years, Kosegarten's 
rendering of the Arabic master Al-Farabl, 9 the work of 

* Thesaurus antiquitatum sacramm (1744-69). 

9 Alii Ispahanensis liber cantilenarum magnus 
et seq.). 

. . (1840 


Kiesewetter, 20 with more recent translations by German 
savants and descriptions by French writers of modern 
Arab music, which, however, is a different matter. Yet the 
many wonderful treasures lying behind the curtained door 
have remained^practically untouched. For, in the unveil- 
ing of these valuable heirlooms of the art of music, it is 
not enough that the student should be a sound oriental 
scholar, well versed in the language of the old schools ; he 
must also have the practised eye and sense of the anti- 
quary and the trained ear and mind of the musician. It 
is in Dr. Henry George Farmer that we possess these 
three requisites happily and effectually combined. 

I have for a long time been under an obligation to Dr. 
Farmer ; for his first book (on military music), which is a 
well used volume on my bookshelf ; for his later writings 
and many of his communications to learned societies, 
which are known far and wide; and, on this occasion, for 
his latest work, the pages of which he has kindly allowed 
me to scan. 

I am sure that its readers will be most grateful to him 
for this new instalment of Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic 
musical lore in so convenient and comprehensive a form. 
Many will not be able to test his conclusions by their own 
intimacy with the languages of which he is a ready 
master: others, after due consideration, may hesitate to 
endorse in their entirety the deductions and suggestions 
he has made; but certainly all cannot fail to appreciate 
his scholarly translations. 

When I had my hydraulis, I badly needed wind "regu- 
lators" between the bellows and the stabiliser or com- 
pressor, which would have prevented the vagaries of an 

10 Vie Musik der Ardber (1842). 


A Foreword. 

unsteady blower. In the Muristus treatise here brought 
forward by Dr. Farmer we have these "regulators." 

We are also indebted to him for having traced the gene- 
alogy of the myth of the Hariin al-Rashid organ in 
Europe, which is shown to have started with De Genlis. 
It is now as dead as it can be, and I am glad that he has 
given it the coup de grace. As for William of Malmesbury. 
Dr. Farmer's new translation is certainly " up to date " in 
its "hydrostatic force" (acqiuB calefactcz violentiam), but 
it is quite legitimate as a derivative from caldus — 
" active or excited under pressure." 

On the one hand thanking him for exposing absurd and 
untrustworthy statements, and on the other relying on the 
trustworthiness of his expert research, I wish to this re- 
freshing and informing book, as it goes forth to the light 
of day, every success and good fortune. Nahdrak sa'ld. 

Francis W. Galpin. 

Faulkbourne, Essex. 



Foreword by the Rev. Canon F. W. Galpin, M.A., F.L.S. vii 
Introduction ... ... ... ... ... ... ... xvii 

Chapter I. 
The Term " Organ " 1 

Chapter II. 
The Invention of the Organ ... ... ... ... ... 7 

Chapter III. 
The Organ from Hebrew Sources 21 

Chapter IV. 
The Organ from Syriac Sources 45 

Chapter V. 
The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Pneumatic Organ) ... 54 

Chapter VI. 
The Organ from Arabic Sources (Hydraulic Organs) ... ... 79 

Chapter VII. 
The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis) 119 

Chapter VIII. 
The Arabian Organ in Europe 139 

Appendix I. 
Scale of Arabic Measurements used in the Present Work ... 158 

Appendix II. 
Heron's Hydraulis 159 

Appendix III. 
Kircher's Automatic Hydraulic Organ ... ... ... ... 165 

Bibliography ... ... ... ... ... ... 168 

Index 176 

Errata 185 



The Muristus Pneumatic Organ ... ... ... Frontispiece 

Plate 1 . — The Archimedes Automatic Wind Instrumentalist 

facing p. 81 

„ 2. — The Muristus Hydraulis facing p. 129 

Fig. 1. — The Muristus Pneumatic Organ 

2. — The Archimedes Automatic Wind Instrumentalist 

3. — The Apollonios Automatic Hydraulic Organ. 
Showing the mechanism of the water-wheel 
cistern ... 

4. — The Apollonios Automatic Hydraulic Organ. 
Showing the two valves 

5. — The Apollonios Automatic Hydraulic Organ. 
Showing the two air-compressing cisterns 

6. — The Apollonios Automatic Hydraulic Organ. 
Showing the wind-pipes 

7. — The Apollonios Automatic Hydraulic Organ 
(Reconstructed) ... ... 

8. — The Banu Musa Automatic Hydraulic Organ (Re- 
constructed). Showing the three cisterns 

9. — The Banu Musa, Automatic Hydraulic Organ (Re- 
constructed). Showing the recording barrel ... 

10.— The "Kitab Al-Siyasa" Hydraulis 

11.— The "Kitab Al-Siyasa" Hydraulis 

12.— The " Kitab Al-Siyasa " Hydraulis 

13.— The Muristus Hydraulis 

14.- — The Her5n Hydraulis ... 

15. — The Kircher Automatic Hydraulic Organ facing p. 165 








. 125 
. 126 
. 126 
. 134 
. 162 

The Schott Automatic Hydraulic Organ facing p. 167 



" Ghubdr ul-'amali khairun min za'faran il-'utlati." 

'■ The dust of labour is better than the saffron of idleness." — 

Arabic Proverb. 

QUITE a regiment of historians have already paraded 
before us the alluring and fascinating story of the 
"King of Instruments," and one can therefore presage 
the interrogation being put, "Why add to the file?" The 
answer is that the present work does not profess to be a 
history of the organ, but just simply a contribution 
towards a particular provenance and period of its his- 
tory, hitherto unwritten or imperfectly known. 

Whilst most of the material offered will probably be 
quite new to the majority of readers, part of the Hebrew- 
Aramaic data from the Talmud and elsewhere, has long 
been known to historians. Yet, truth to tell, not since 
Ugolinus, in the eighteenth century, has any serious at- 
tention been paid to this rather important source. Ugo- 
linus collected the most significant writings on the music 
of the Jews, with Hebrew texts, in his Thesaurus antiqui- 
tatum sacrarum (1744-69). Historians have neglected 
him, or, at any rate, have not taken advantage of his 
monumental work. Of course, Ugolinus wrote in Latin, 
and that may have repelled inquirers. For the first time 
the present work gives those interested in the question an 
English translation of all the known references to the 
ancient organ in Hebrew- Aramaic literature. 


In regard to Syriac literature, the materials concerning 
the ancient organ are scanty. These, however, have also 
been translated into English, as they do not appear to 
have been known in this way before, if, indeed, they have 
ever been noticed. 

More important is the Arabic literature, together with 
the few extracts from Persian and Turkish writers. Much 
of this is from manuscript sources hitherto untouched. 
One may even make bold to say that some of the data 
brought forward in the present work ought to make es- 
timable material for future historians of the organ. The 
primitive pneumatic organ described in the Arabic trea- 
tise entitled The Comprehensive Reed-Pipe Organ, at- 
tributed to Muristus, is certainly the earliest example of 
its kind known to us, and historians have hitherto only 
surmised the existence of such an instrument. 2 In the 
Arabic treatise on the hydraulis, attributed to Muristus, 
we have, for the first time, a specification, together with 
designs, which, with the help of the descriptions of Heron, 
Vitruvius, and the Carthage model, ought to be of 
material assistance to the successors of the Rev. Canon 
Galpin and the late Dr. Charles Maclean, when a real 
history of the instrument comes to be written. 

Indeed, I believe that serious consideration deserves to 
be given to the opinion, which I have hazarded, that the 
Muristus treatise on the hydraulis may be the actual work 
written by Kfesibios, the inventor of the hydraulis, or an 
adaptation of it. 

Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (third edi- 
tion, iii, 736) says: " The Organ of the Ancients: From 
Eastern Sources, .... by Dr. Henry Farmer (in the press, 

1 Encyclopmdia Britanniea (eleventh edition), xx, 266. 



1926), is looked forward to as an authoritative treatment 
of the subject." This statement is likely to cause con- 
fusion in the future so far as dates are concerned, as may 
be seen from a question asked in the Musical Times (1928, 
PP- 735-6, 833), and it seems advisable, therefore, that I 
should explain why a work that was "in the press in 
1926" was not published until 1930. 

The present work was completed in 1924, and early in 
1925 it passed into the hands of Mr. William Reeves for 
publication. Shortly after this, I received a letter from 
Professor Dr. Eilhard Wiedemann, of Erlangen Uni- 
versity, congratulating me on my Arabian Influence on 
Musical Theory, which had appeared in the January issue 
of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Corres- 
pondence followed, in which I informed him that I had 
completed a book on The Organ of the Ancients: From 
Eastern Sources, when, to my surprise, I learned from 
him that the Banu Musa and Muristus treatises had been 
translated into German by himself and Professor Dr. 
Fnedrich Hauser in a centenary volume and in a periodi- 
cal publication respectively. 3 

Although the Muristus translations had been made in 
191 8, even Baron Carra de Vaux appears to have been 
unaware of the fact, since, in his work, Les penseurs de 
Vlslam (1921), he expressed himself as follows about 
these Muristus documents: "Ces textes evidemment ne 
sont pas tres faciles; et les figures qui les accompag- 
ment dans les manuscrits sont parfois plus decevantes 
qu'utiles. lis sont au reste peu nombreux; et il serait 
desirable de les itudier et les traduire ensemble, afin d'en 

iCentenarie > della Natcita di Micliele Amari (1909). Archiv 
fe' (1918?. ' Xotunvissenschaften und der Technik, 


titer tout le parti possible"' It was, indeed, the very 
words of Baron Carra de Vaux that originally led me to 
plan the present work, and it came therefore as a great 
surprise to me when I found that I had been forestalled 
in the translation of these treatises. 

It was my intention to immediately withdraw the manu- 
script of my book from the publishers, but I deferred to 
the persuasion of two eminent scholars who had read the 
manuscript, and urge4 publication because of the other 
original material brought forward in my book, and be- 
cause the Banu Musa and Muristus documents would be 
in English translations. In 1926, on the eve practically 
of the work being sent to the press, I decided not to 
publish, as, in spite of the labour bestowed on the work, 
I did not feel the same interest in publishing since I had 
learned of the German translations above alluded to. 

Mentioning the matter one day to Mr. A. S. Fulton 
MA of the British Museum, to whom I am indebted 
for many courtesies, I learned that the Museum had ac- 
quired an exemplar of the Muristus treatises. In my 
previous work, the Bairut MS. of Muristus, as found in 
the Mashriq, had been used. The texts were faulty, and 
I was far from being satisfied with the translations. Pro- 
fessor Dr Wiedemann had the benefit of a Constantinople 
MS., although not at first hand, as well as the Mashnq 
text/ A perusal of the British Museum copy soon con- 
vinced me that, in spite of lacuna, this was perhaps the 
best. This decided me to reconsider the publication of 

Jii, 180. He had himself given a part translation of the 
hydmulis document in the Bevue des Etudes grec^es (1908). 

U Professor Dr. Wiedemann did not himself use the 'Constan- 
tinople MS. Professor Dr. Bergstraesser, then at the University 
of Constantinople, compared the Ma^m text with the MS- "ri 
noted the variations, which were communicated to the former. 



my book, and with the British Museum MS., which had 
not hitherto been used, I was able to go over the ground 
afresh, and it is from the latter manuscript that the pre- 
sent translations of the Muristus treatises have been 

As for the Band Musa treatise, I may say that Pro- 
fessor Dr. Wiedemann's work was not a complete trans- 
lation. Much of it was an abridgment. This was an 
additional reason for including this treatise in a complete 

It is now 1930, and the printing of the book is nearing 
completion. I have just received through the courtesy of 
the authoress, Mrs. Helen Robbins Bittermann, of Col- 
umbus, Ohio, U.S.A., two articles published by her in 
1929 in Speculum, the journal of the Mediaeval Academy 
of America, on (1) Harun ar-Rashid's Gift of an Organ 
to Charlemagne, and (2) The Organ in the Early Middle 
Ages. The first of these articles reminds me that in 1927 
I sent to Mr. O. G. Sonneck, the editor of the American 
Musical Quarterly, an article entitled The Arabian Organ 
in Europe, which was, in fact, a resume of the last chap- 
ter of the present book. The article did not appear, and 
its receipt was not -even acknowledged. Had that article 
appeared, there would have been no necessity for that of 
Mrs. Bittermann's, since the latter simply traverses the 
ground which had already been covered by me, and I 
had already shown in 1926 {Journal, Royal Asiatic So- 
ciety, p. 496) that the Harun-Charlemagne organ was a 
myth which could not be traced beyond Madame De 

In her first article Mrs. Bittermann quotes from some 
of my writings, and says (p. 216): "Farmer erroneously 
assumes that the Arabs reintroduced the organ into 


Europe." Reference to my Arabian Influence on Musical 
Theory (p. 5), Historical Facts for the Arabian Musical 
Influence (pp. 295-7), and the present work (p. 154), will 
establish that it is actually Mrs. Bittermann who has " er- 
roneously assumed." It was revival of interest in the 
hydraulis, not in the organ (pneumatic organ) in Europe, 
that I suggested was due to the Arabs. My critic says 
that the organ was ".not indigenous to the Arab," and for 
authority for her statement she refers her readers to F. 
Salvador-Daniel's book translated by me under the title 
of The Music and- Musical Instruments of the Arab (191 5) 
and to the article on " Music " in the Encyclopedia of 
Islam. So far as Salvador-Daniel or myself is concerned, 
there is no authority for the statement to be gleaned from 
us. As for her second reference, the article in the Encyclo- 
fcedia of Islam has not yet appeared ! 

In concluding this "Foreword" I would like to say 
that in several places reference is made to the Yundniy- 
yiin and Rum, who have been made to stand for the an- 
cient Greeks and the Byzantines respectively. It ought 
to be borne in mind, however, that the terms sometimes 
refer to the Byzantines and Romans respectively. 

A verbal translation of the Arabic documents has been 
aimed at. In some instances it may be considered that 
the results have been rather too verbal. My desire has 
been, however, to convey as faithfully as possible not only 
the style of the original Arabic, but also the processes of 
Arabian thought. 

The transliterations from the Arabic have been made 
in accordance with the system approved by the Royal 
Asiatic Society, and now used generally in most English- 
speaking countries. There are a few modifications, in- 
cluding the omission of the ligature or logotype for " th," 


" dh," etc. In Hebrew and Syriac, whilst the conventional 
method has been followed, there are occasional incon- 
sistencies. The quantities and diacritical points have 
been omitted in these languages. Whenever I have used 
the name of a musical instrument or a technical word, I 
have invariably given the Semitic word in parentheses, 
but in the singular, even when the text demands other- 
wise, rather than confuse the reader by the use of the dual 
or plural. 

Finally, I have to express thanks and obligations in 
several quarters. First, there is a debt of gratitude to 
my old teacher-, the late Dr. T. H. Weir, Lecturer in Ara- 
bic at Glasgow University, to be acknowledged. The 
whole of the Hebrew and Syriac translations are prac- 
tically his, whilst his help in other directions was con- 
siderable. I have also to speak of my indebtedness to 
Professor D. S. Margoliouth, F.B.A., of Oxford, who read 
my MS. in its earlier form, and encouraged me to pub- 
lish, in spite of the disappointment already alluded to. 
To Professor W. B. Stevenson, D.D., and the Rev. Alex- 
ander Moffatt, B.D., of Glasgow, I must record my thanks 
for generously reading my proofs, and offering sugges- 
tions, whilst I have also to acknowledge a debt for sev- 
eral kindnesses to Dr. J. M. Clark, M.A., and Mr. Adam 
Henderson, B.Litt, of Glasgow University. Finally, I 
would like to mention that I am indebted to the Carnegie 
Trust for its beneficence in lightening the financial burden 
which many of us engaged in research of this nature find 
a serious impediment. 

Henry George Farmer. 

Glasgow, September, 1930. 




"And his brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all 
6uch as handle the. harp and organ." — Genesis iv, 21. 

THE use of the term "organ" in the Bible 2 has, for 
many centuries, been the cause of much ink being 
spilt by historians of music. To them, "organ" meant 
the "mechanically wind-fed instrument," and for the 
translators of the Bible to equate the Hebrew word 'ugab 
with the English word "organ," simply meant to the his- 
torians that the translators did not know any better, since 
the 'ugab has generally been recognised as a "pipe" or 
"wood-wind" instrument. Yet it is quite clear that the 
translators of the Bible were fully justified in what they 
did. ^Elfric, Wyclif, Tyndale, Coverdale, and the £om- 
pilers of the "Great Bible," had all written "organ" be- 
fore the appearance of the authorised version of 1611. 
The work of these scholars was certainly based on the 
Latin Vulgate, for the greater part, and in this latter, or- 
ganum = 'ugab? We must bear in mind, however, that 

1 Genesis iv, 21. Job xxi, 12, sxx, 31. Psalm cl, 4. 

• In the Greek Septuagint, organon — 'ugab only in Psalm cl. 
In Genesis and Job, it equates with psalterion (transposed with 
kithara) and psalmos respectively. The additional Psalm, cli, 
certainly has organon, but we do not possess the Hebrew of this 

1 2 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

"organ" had stood for a "pipe" in English from Anglo- 
Saxon times 8 down to the days of Shakespeare* and Mil- 
ton. 5 The usage had come with the Latin tongue, and we 
find in Ouintilianus (d. 118 A.D.) that organum meant 
a -pipe. 6 With the Greeks also, as may be seen in Telestes 
(d. 400 B.C.), organon had a similar connotation/ 

In modern Hebrew, the word 'ugab stands for our pre- 
sent organ or pianoXbut we cannot argue from this that 
the same meaning was implied in biblical times. In fact, 
there are reasons for believing that the modern Hebrew 
connotation is due to the influence of the Septuagint and 
Vulgate. Admitted that 'ugab equates with hydraulis in 
the Talmud and in the Targums of the Hagiographa 
(third to ninth century), 9 yet this scarcely proves anything 
more than the fact that the Jews of this period knew of 
the hydraulis. 10 

Returning to the question whether " organ " stood for a 
"pipe," there is corroboration from Muslim sources that 

psalm. In Golius (Lexicon Arabico-LatinumJ, qitar - 'ugab, 
organum in Gen. iv, 21. See also, Ta-rgum Arvi. Die arabische 
interpretation des Pentateuchs von liabbi Saadia Hagaon. . . . 
von Rab. J. Schwarzstein (Frankfurt a/M., 1886), page 18, and 
ii of text. 

s Archiv filr Studium der Neueren Sprachen, xcvii, 32, 17. 
Bibliothek der Angelsachsischen Prosa, iii, 136. 

'- Hamlet, iii, 2. 6 Paradise Lost, vii, 596. 

« Quintilianus, 11, 3, 20. 7 Bergk, Porta Lyrici Grctci. 

* Jewish Encyclopaedia, ix, 432. In the same way, psanter stands 
for "pianoforte," but this does not help us to interpret the 
instrument in Daniel, iii. 

9 Talmud Yrushalnii, Sukkah, v, 6. Jastrow, i, 365. 

w Some commentators say that the words "stringed instru- 
ments" and "organs" in Psalm, cl, 4 (A.V.), which translate 
minim and 'ugab, are misplaced, and that minim should more 
properly translate " organs." In the second introduction to Men- 
delssohn's translation of the Psalms, this notion is followed. 


The Term "Organ." 

this was accepted in the East. The old Persian lexicon 
entitled the Burhan-i qati' says : u 

" Some say organ (urghanun) is a translation of ' pipes ' 
(mizmdr), meaning all instruments of blowing," and as 
late as the Turkish writer, Evliya Chelebi (d. c. 1679), 
the word organ (urghanun) is used in this sense. 22 

Besides meaning a "mechanically wind-fed instru- 
ment " as well as a " pipe," the term organon or organum 
stood, with the Greeks and Romans, for an "instrument 
of many strings," and also for " any musical instrument." 
As an "instrument of many strings," the term organon is 
used by Plato (d. 347 B.c.)« and Aristoxenos (b. c. 
354 B - c 0- The oft-quoted passage in the Deipnosophistae 
of Athenaios (fl. 220 A.D.), in which the chatty 
author quotes Aristokles asking "whether the hydraulic 
organ (or hydraulis) is a stringed (literally ' beaten ') or a 
wind instrument,"" appears to be explicable only by tak- 
ing cognisance of the wide use of the term organon. 

Athenaios says that the master musical theorist did not 
know of this point. The work of Aristokles has not come 
down to us, but we know something of the writings of 
Aristoxenos. Paul Tannery has shown that Aristokles 
was contemporaneous with Apollodoros, and must there- 
fore be placed in the second century B.C. 25 Aristoxenos 
however, lived, in all probability, before the hydraulis was 
invented, so that he could scarcely have been in any 
dubiety as to its category. We know that in one place 
Aristoxenos refers to the trigonon ("an instrument of 
many strings ") as an organon, and this might account for 

11 Burhan-i qati', s.v. 

12 Evliya Chelebi, Narrative of Travels, i, ii, 135. 
"Plato, Bepub., 399, c. « Athenaios, iv, 75. 
11 Tannery, Athenee, 26. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

the query mentioned by Athenaios, who may have had 
the word organon in mind when he wrote the above pas- 
sage. That Aristokles should ask the question is quite 
allowable because what he was probably referring to was 
not the hydraulis, but a hydraulic organ of a different 
kind, which made figures play wind, string and percussion 

The term or ganjpff' was understood by mediaeval Latin 
writers to stand for something similar, since we read: 
Tsalterium Rotta is genus organi. 16 According to the 
Irish glosses, organa stood for timpanum and chithara. 11 
Corroboration also comes from Syriac sources since we 
know from Isho' bar Bahlul (fl. 963) that the term 
"organ" (urganun) was used for two kinds of musical 
instruments, a "mechanically wind-fed instrument" and 
an " instrument of many strings." Here is what he says : w 
" There are two kinds of organ (urganun), of which the 
first has the shape of a weaver's frame, supplied with 
many strings, and its sounds can be heard seven stadia 

Elsewhere we read that this instrument possessed ten 
strings. From Arabic sources we may quote from the 
historian, Al-Mas'udl (d. c. 956), who uses material 
from an earlier writer, Ibn Khurdadhbih (d. c. 912). 
He speaks of the Byzantine urghan as an instrument of 
"sixteen strings," whilst the "mechanically wind-fed in- 
strument" is termed the urghanunP In the eleventh 
century Glossarium Latino-Arabicum, edited by Seybold, 

16 Mon. Germ. Hist., ii, 101.^ See Boethius, Be musica, i, 34. 
n Stokes and Strachan, Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus, i, 298. 
is Payne Smith, 91. 

19 Al-Mas'udl, viii, 91-2. Farmer, Studies in Oriental Musical 
Instruments, page 56. Cf. Byzantine Musical Instruments, 4. 


The Term "Organ." 

the term organica equates with "possessed of many 
strings" (dhu awtar kathira)? which reminds us of 
Plato's organon folychordon. 1 

The term organum, used in general for "any musical 
instrument," may be found in Cato (d. 149 B.C.), 2 Lucre- 
tius (d. c. 50 B.C.), 3 Julius Firmicus (fl. 340 A.D.)/ and St. 
Augustine (d. 340 A.D.y The last named says on this 
point : 

" Organa is the word used for all instruments of music. 
Not only is that called organum which is large, and is in- 
flated by means of bellows, but whatever is adapted to 
singing, and is- corporeal, which he who performs uses as 
an instrument, is called organum" 

In another passage the same author says : 6 

"This instrument to which bellows are applied, is called 
by the Greeks by another name, and its being called or- 
ganum is rather a conventional Latin usage." 

This passage is rather interesting since it might be 
hazarded that the "other name" used by the Greeks was 
hydraulis. On the other hand there are two passages 
quoted by Ruelle which supply perhaps a better clue for 
this " other name." Here are the two passages : 7 

"(Organon), the 'flute-like,' of. brass, which is called 
the megiston organon (greatest organ), cheirorganon 
(hand organ)." 

" Those which are called ' organs,' especially with us at 
present, the ancients called the plinthion achordon 

» Seybold, 557. 

1 Plato, llepub., 399, c. Cf. Julius Pollux, iv, 9, 5. 
«Cato, Non., 77, 9. « Lucretius, 3, 132. 

1 Firmicus, 3, 14. « St. Augustine, Comm. Psalm, Ivi, 16. 

6 St. Augustine, Comm. Psalm, cl, 7. 
1 Ruelle, 312. See Leclercq, 1177-8. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

(stringless plinthion), and the plinthion auletichon (flute- 
like plinthion)." 

It was evidently the plinth-like form of the organ-case, 
or the pedestal which supported it, which led to this name 
being given to the organ by the Greeks. 

In Western Europe during the Middle Ages, we have 
the term organum standing for a particular kind of musi- 
cal composition. On^this question the Persian Burhan-i 
qdti' seems to point to a similar procedure : s 

" Others say that when a thousand men, old and young, 
all together, with different sounds, sing to one another 
something, that state of things they call urghanun." 

Whether the term organum, which stood for a certain 
species of composition, came into use owing to the fact 
that this kind of music was played on the instrument 
called the organum, is not easy to say. At the same time, 
such a procedure obtained, it would seem, in Syria, in re- 
gard to the hydraulis. In Syriac, the latter instrument 
was called the hedhrula, and the Syriac lexicographer, 
Isho' bar Bahlul (fl. 963) says : ° 

" Hydraules are also the tunes played upon them [the 
hydraules]." The Arabic commentary on the passage says 
that the word means, "The music (ghina!) in them [the 
hydraules], or the player (mughannl) on them." 

Elias bar Shinaya (b. 975) says: M 

"Hydraules are kinds of playing that the mukhanna- 
thiln 11 play." 

8 The Burhan-i qdti' gives an alternative reading : " A concert of 
seventy girls, all singing the same thing." Professor Mar- 
goliouth has kindly suggested to me that probably someone de- 
rived the word from the Armenian erg = " song," and noin = 
" the same." 

» Payne Smith, 977. 10 Ibid. 

11 The muhhannathUn, were a debased class of men. See my 
History of Arabian Music, pages 44-5. 




" Some say this and some say that, but Allah alone knows th& 
truth." — Arabic Byword. 

THE organ that we now have to consider is the in- 
strument which we Westerners of modern timesi 
know by this name. It is the "mechanically wind-fed 
instrument" known in two forms, (1) the pneumatic organ* 
and (2) \he hydraulic organ. This nomenclature is cer- 
tainly rather misleading, but it has been in use so long 
that it is scarcely worth while at this time of day to seek 
more precise terminology. Both organs are, strictly 
speaking, pneumatic, i.e., they are made to speak by means 
of air pressure. The real difference between them is in 
the method by which the wind supply and wind pressure 
stabilisation are obtained. Further, two principles are in- 
volved in the hydraulic organs. In one, the wind supply 
is furnished by a hydraulic air compressor, as in the Banu 
Musa instrument. In the other, the wind supply comes 
from bellows or pistons, whilst the water only plays the 
part of stabilising the pressure. This is a hydraidic pres- 
sure stabiliser as in the hydraulis. 1 

1 Throughout this work, the term pneumatic organ is used in 
reference to all mechanically wind-fed instruments where the wind 
supply and wind pressure stabilisation are furnished by bellows or 
pistons. The term hydraulic organ is used for any instrument 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

Some writers look upon the hydraulis as the earlier 
type, but this theory is wholly untenable, since there can- 
not be any doubt that the pneumatic organ has the prior 
claim. How and where this latter originated, have been 
variously speculated upon. Two names occur in the 
Bible as "inventors" of the organ. They are Jubal and 
David. Added to this we have the claim of the Roman 
Church that St. Cecilia has this honour. 

According to Genesis (iv, 21), Jubal "was the father 
of all such as handle the harp and organ" So runs the 
English " Authorised Version " and almost every other 
translation, where "organ" stands for the Hebrew 'agab, 
a word which, as we have already seen, represents an in- 
strument of the wood-wind family. 

David's claim as an organ inventor has its authority in 
the additional Psalm cli of the Septuagint. Here we are 
told that David "fashioned" an organ (organon), but 
since we have no Hebrew original of this part of this 
psalm, we cannot say which type of instrument is in- 
tended, especially when we take into consideration the 
various words which organon stands for in the Septua- 
gint. 3 David had an inordinate reputation among the 
Jews in matters musical/ and he was recognised as an 
inventor of musical instruments quite apart from the 
testimony of this psalm/ 

Rabbinical lore has heightened this esteem, 5 and even 
the Arabs became infatuated with this laudation of his 

where the wind supply comes from a hydraulic air compressor, 
whilst the term hydraulis is reserved for the instrument furnished 
with a hydraulic pressure stabiliser. 

2 Sea ante, page 1. 

si Samuel, xvi, 18. II Samuel, vi, 5. Josephus, vii, 12. 

I ArnoSj vi, 5. 

5 Talmud Yrushalmi, Berakhoth. 

The Invention of the Organ. 

musical gifts. 6 In this connection there is a Muslim tra- 
dition which runs : 7 

" The organ (urghanun) is an old invention, and it is 
said that formerly David accompanied his psalms with 
it David invented this instrument (at Edessa)." 

The St. Cecilia claim is almost as legendary. This 
" Patron Saint of Music " lived in the second century A.D., 
long after the invention of the organ. Some people have 
suggested that it is merely the small portable organ that 
is referred to here. So far the imagined inventors of the 

Although history tells us nothing about the inventor 
of the organ, we can be reasonably sure of the process of 
its invention. Kathleen Schlesinger, in her Researches 
into the Origin of the Organs of the Ancients, says that 
the "essentials" in the instrument are: "(1) a set of reeds 
or pipes of various lengths ; (2) a contrivance for supply- 
ing the pipes with wind and thus enabling them to speak ; 
(3) a system for controlling the distribution of the supply 
of wind separately to each of the several pipes." 8 The 
first had its prototype in the ordinary reed-pipe and Pan- 
pipes. The second was suggested by the bagpipe and 
the bellows. The third was a question of mechanics. All 
these requisites may be traced back to the very dawn of 
civilisation in Babylonia-Assyria and Egypt. When it 
was precisely that the "restless intellect of man" con- 
jured all these "essentials" together in a primitive organ, 
we do not know. All that we can be sure of is that it 
was long anterior to the fourth century B C, a period when 

6 Qur'dn, xxi, 79; xxxiv, 10; xxxviii, 17. Kashf al-mahjub, 402. 
Al-Tabari, i, 423. 

1 Evliya Chelebi, i, ii, 226. s Schlesinger, Researches, 169-70. 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

we have definite knowledge of organs in an advanced 
stage of construction. 

The late Dr. Charles Maclean, who wrote an able essay 
on. the ancient hydraulis, postulates three distinct stages 
of organ blowing. Under this heading he says : ° 

"The first stage in supplying it (the wind) is, when a 
man either steps on to a blast-bag and so puts his weight, 
or else applies his han<ps thereto and so puts his mus- 
cular force, to expelling the enclosed air at an increased 
pressure; he then gives wind directly proceeding from his 
own exertions, and so varying in pressure, to the speaking 
pipe. The second stage is when natural inanimate 
weights are fixed at the summit of the slanting top of a 
framed blast-bag (' diagonal bellows '), and the man's ac- 
tion consists in periodically lifting the weighted frame 
by lever, pulley, etc., so that the weights can act; here it 
is a natural inanimate weight which gives unvarying pres- 
sure of wind to the speaking pipe, and the only drawback 
is stoppage of continuity of supply at the moment the 
weights are raised — which obviated by multiplying 
and alternating the weighted blast-bags. The third stage 
is when the weights are placed on the flat top of a separ- 
ate distensible and collapsible air-reservoir ('horizontal 
bellows'); then the action is as before, only that the feeder 
being now a distinct apparatus and feeding through a 
non-return valve, all lack of continuity also is avoided. 
These three stages have always (? H. G. F.) overlapped, 
and been thoroughly concurrent with each other." 

Thi§ classification is, on the whole, fairly satisfactory, 
but, it has already been pointed out, 20 there may have 
been an earlier application of the methods of the first 

» Maclean, 211. 

10 Schlesinger, The Organ, 266. Matthews, A Handbook of the 


The Invention of the Organ. 

stage, where the blast-bag was inflated by the mouth. 
That this conjecture is correct, will be demonstrated pre- 
sently from Arabic sources. 

About the fourth century B.C., another method of 
" winding " the organ was introduced. This was the first 
hydraulic organ. In this the air was forced into the 
sounding-pipes by the flow of water, and it is this in- 


strument that has been confounded with the hydraulis, a 
totally different instrument. Warman, for instance, tells 
us that Plato is credited with the invention of the 
hydraulis, but that, the attribution is false because "this 
organ (of Plato's) was not a real hydraulicon 
(= hydraulis), for the water was employed by Plato to 
cause its gravitating power to set in motion an ordinary 
fold-made or pneumatic bellows."" This description of 
Plato's instrument is rather fantastical. Athenaios is the 
sole authority, and his words imply no such interpreta- 
tion. Athenaios distinctly states that " Plato had an idea 
of this type of instrument, since he had made a night 
timepiece something like a hydraulis, being similar to a 
large klepsydra, and the hydraulis [ i.e., hydraulic organ] 
seems to be a kind of klepsydra" 13 The Plato timepiece 
was clearly a klepsydra which sounded the hours by means 
of a flue-pipe or pipes through the action of hydraulic 
air compression. 23 

The Plato claim for the "invention" of the organ is 
also to be found in the Persian Burhan-i qati' : *& 

"Warman, 38. » Athenaios, iv, 75. 

ls For a discussion on trie Plato instrument, see Diels, Uher 
Platans Nachtuhr (Sitz. der K. P. Akad. der Wiss., 1915, page 
824). t ■ 

U Burhan-i qati', s.v. From Greek sources we know little or 
nothing of Plato's musical abilities, but from an Arabic author, 
Ibn al-Qiftl, we learn that Plato studied music in his youth and 
wrote on the subject. 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

" The organ (urghanun, tirghaniin) is that instrument 
which the Europeans (Rumiyan) play, and Plato is the 
inventor of it." 

The authority for this is probably an Arabic one, al- 
though I have been unable to trace it. 

Aristotle (fl. 344 B.C.) is also mentioned as the inventor 
of the organ, but only by Muslim writers, so far as I am 
aware. The famous kcientist, Fakhr al-Din al-RazI 
(d. 1 209) says in his J ami' al-irtiim : 15 

"The world-master Aristotle (Aristatalls) arrives, and 
the organ (urghanan) is made." 

Three hundred years later, the Turkish bibliographer, 
Hajjl Khalifa (d. 1658) tells a similar story in his Kashf 
al-zunun (" Doubts Cleared up "). He says : ie 

"After him [Pythagoras] other wise philosophers added 
to what he had invented, until the turn came to Aristotle, 
and he conceived and constructed the organ." 

How Aristatalls, Aristatalls, or AristG, as he is vari- 
ously designated by Muslim writers, came to have this 
"invention" tacked on to his name is not easy to say. 27 
Classical authors, whose works have come down to us, do 
not mention it. Aristotle's Mechanika (a pseudograph), 
known in Arabic as the Kitab al-hiyal, was possibly one 
of the earliest works on mechanics known to the Arabs. 
This may have led them to ascribe so novel a contrivance 
as the organ to the Stagirite. Further, the name Aristu 
could easily be confounded with Aristun (Muristus), who 
is claimed to have been the inventor of the organ or a 
writer on the subject of its construction, as will be shown 

M Fakhr al-Din al-RazI, folio 154 v. » Hajjl Khalifa, vi, 258. 

J? The klepsydra was certainly known in Aristotle's day. See 
Problems, xvi, 8. 


The Invention of the Organ. 

Archimedes (d. 212 B.C.) is mentioned by Tertullian as 
the inventor of the organum hydraidicumP This state- 
ment has led Warman to assert that " the first or true in- 
ventor of the actual hydraulic organ (= hydraulis) was 
undoubtedly the celebrated Archimedes."" The facts of 
the case are such, however, that this certainty will not 
bear^close scrutiny. One may perhaps say quite safely 
that the hydraulis can scarcely be older than Archimedes, 
seeing that he was the creator or systematiser of the 
science of hydrostatics, but this alone hardly warrants us 
in concluding that he was the " inventor " of the hydraulis. 

Most historians of the organ, from the time of Vossius 
(1673)*° to Degering (1905), 1 have repudiated the Tertul- 
lian claim. Probably the repudiation is quite proper, if 
the hydraulis itself is meant, although it would seem that 
Archimedes may have some claim as the inventor of an- 
other type of hydraidic organ. A Byzantine writer named 
Zosimos (fl. 408-50 A.D.) has a significant phrase which 
may be turned to account. It runs : r<* TrfcvpurtKa. 

The Arab polygraph Al-Jahiz (d. 868) also mentions 
Archimedes in such a way that might suggest some reason 
for the claim. He says : " What a distance ! Archimedes 
(Arshakanus) to Muristus!" 3 This Muristus, as we shall 
learn presently, was the name of a Greek savant who is 
claimed in Arabic works to have been the inventor of the 
hydraulis, and a writer of works on organ construction. 
Strange to say, Archimedes is credited by the Arabs with 
the invention of the klepsydra, 1 ' and we have seen that the 

28 Tertullian, Be anima, xiv. 19 Warman, 38. 
w Vossius, 107. 1 Degering, Die Orgel. 

* Ruelle, 312. « Al-Jahiz (Cairo edition), 133, 143. 

<5 Carra de Vaux, Notice sur deux mss. arabes, 295. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

klepsydra has been confused with the hydraulic organ or 

There exists in Arabic a treatise attributed to Archi- 
medes which describes a klepsydra in which a small flue- 
pipe (saffara) is sounded by hydraulic pressure, whilst 
another treatise of his deals with an automatic wind in- 
strumentalist (alat al-zdmiz) in which a flue-pipe (saf- 
fara) or reed-pipe (zamr) is winded in the same way. 5 
These works have only survived in Arabic, and it is highly 
probable that it was such treatises as these that led to 
Archimedes being credited with the " invention " of the or- 
ganum hydraulicum, which is not necessarily the 

Apollonios of Perga (fl. 247-205 B.C.), called by the 
Arabs Abliniyus, Abluniyus, Bulunyas, and Balinus, 6 is 
credited with the authorship of a work on an automatic 
wind instrumentalist entitled San' at al-zamir (" Construc- 
tion of the Wind Instrumentalist "), which has only come 
down to us in an Arabic version. It may have been trans- 
lated by one of the Banu Miisa (Muhammad, d. 873), 
Hilal ibn Abi Hilal (d. c. 883), or Thabit ibn Qurra 
(d. 901), who translated his Conic Sections. The in- 
strument described is an hydraidic air compressor. Water 
pours into a cistern hitherto filled with air. The rising 
water compresses the air in a wind chest, which makes a 
sounding pipe (nay) speak.' 

In the third century B.C., an improvement was made in 

1 British Museum MS., Or. Add. 23391, folio 20 v. For a de- 
scription of another exemplar of the MS. see Carra de Vaux as 
quoted above, and Wiedemann's Jfyzantinische u. arabische akus- 
tische Instrumcnte, 145, and his Uiir dcs Archimedes, 193, 194. 

« The first is the form in the British Museum MS. quoted above. 

?■ It is described by Carra de Vaux, op. cit. above, 307, and 
Wiedemann, op. cit., 149. 


The Invention of the Organ. 

stabilising the wind pressure of the ordinary bellows or 
piston-blown organ. Instead of the pressure stability 
being maintained by horizontal bellows as in the third 
stage mentioned by Dr. Maclean, water was used for this 
purpose, hence the term hydraulis being given to the ap- 
paratus. Its inventor is generally supposed to be Ktesi- 
bios (fl. 246-221- B.C.). The claim rests mainly on 
thctestimony of Athenaios. Paul Tannery has carefully 
sifted the evidence, and he has demonstrated that Ktesi- 
bios must have lived under Euergetes I (246-221 B.C.), and 
not under Ptolemy Euergetes II (146-116 B.C.) as 
Athenaios thought. 8 

Chappell says that not only Athenaios, "but also Vit- 
ruvius before, and Pliny after his time, unite in ascribing 
it to Ktesibios, as do all earlier writers." 9 Chappell also 
alludes to the epigram of Hedylos in which, he says, there 
is mention of the "hydraulic organ (= hydraulis), and to 
Ktesibios as its inventor." The Pliny evidence is scarcely 
valid, since the writer refers to hydraulic machines in 
general. 10 The " earlier writers " mentioned by Chappell 
are Hedylos and Philon, but this evidence is valueless. 
Hedylos simply tells us that Ktesibios constructed a 
rhyton in a temple dedicated to Arsinoe Zephyritis." 
This rhyton was not an hydraulis, but a cup which emitted 
a musical sound, probably worked on the principle of the 
Archimedes organon hydraulikon, which was a hydraulic 
air compressor, or one of the whistling instruments men- 
tioned and described by Philon and Heron. 13 Chappell 

s Athenaios, iv, 75. Tannery, Athenee, 23-7. 
s Chappell, 365. 

J" Pliny, Hist. Nat., vii, 38. " Pneumatica ratione et hydrau- 
licis organis repertis." 
11 Athenaios, xi, 97. 

n Cf. Daremberg et Saglio, iv, 865; and Tannery, Athenie, 24. 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

also says that Philon refers "to several inventions by 
Ktesibios, and, among them, to the hydraulic organ 
(= hydraulis)." 13 This is also incorrect. Philon does not 
mention Ktesibios as the "inventor" of the hydraulis. 
He only refers to him in respect to what he taught con- 
cerning the " nature of air," and the remark is made after 
a reference to something that Philon himself had written 
on the hydraulis, yet Ktesibio/ is not actually mentioned 
as the inventor, although he probably was. 2i 

The first glimpse that we get of the hydraulis is given 
by Philon, when he speaks of " the syrinx played with the 
hand called the hydraulis." 15 Philon himself wrote on the 
hydraulis, but the work has been lost, unless we are to 
allow, with Baron Carra de Vaux, that the Arabic 
Muristus treatise is Pbilon's. 25 This Muristus, Mlristus or 
Murtus, has however, a claim for an independent existence 
as the inventor of the hydraulis, and as the author of a 
treatise on its construction, as well as one on the pneuma- 
tic organ. 

From the ninth to the fourteenth century A.D., this 
Muristus finds a place in Arabic works. Al-Jahiz (d. 
868) speaks of earlier and later Greek theorists in the 
domain of music thus : " From Pythagoras to Euklid and 
Mlristus," and then of earlier and later mechanicians 
thus : " From Archimedes to Muristus." 27 We know from 
Ibn al-Nadim (d. c. 996), Ibn al-Qifti (d. 1248), 
and Abul-Fida' (d. 133 1), that a Murtus or Muristus 
was the author of treatises on organ construction. Copies 
of these works have been preserved and may be found in 

it Chappell, 328. « Philon, 77. « Philon, 77. 

is Carra de Vaux, Philon de Byzance, 38; L'Invention de 
V hydraulis, 340. 

w Al-Jahiz, 133, 143. 


The Invention of the Organ. 

the British Museum, the library of St. Sophia at Constan- 
tinople, and at the Three Moons College of the Greek 
Orthodox Church at Bairut. 

The identity of this Muristus has already been dis- 
cussed by Baron Carra de Vaux and the present writer. 2 * 
The former has pointed out that in the Arabic version of 
Philon's Pneumatics (Kitdb fil-hiyal al-ruhdniyya), the 
dedicatee is a certain Ristun or Aristun. In the Latin 
translation derived from the Arabic, the dedicatee is called 
Marzotom, whilst the same author's Belopoiika, and the 
Treatise on the Klepsydra attributed to Archimedes, also 
refer to this same person. 29 These facts have led Baron 
Carra de Vaux to suggest that the Muristus of the organ 
treatises is the same person as the Ristun, Aristun, etc., 
mentioned above, and that all these names are simply 
malformations of Ariston or Aristos, the friend to whom 
Philon dedicated his works. 

The learned French savant has also very plausibly ar- 
gued how Muristus came to be credited with the author- 
ship of the organ treatises. The scribes, he says, misread 
the Arabic particle li as the genitive instead of the dative, 
so that instead of "by Muristus" we ought to read "to 
Muristus." Of course, if we accept the Ariston (Muristus) 
dedication theory, we must accept the Philon authorship 
of the organ treatises, together with the Archimedes klep- 
sydra treatise, and Baron Carra de Vaux is practically 
prepared to urge this. 20 

Yet it is almost impossible to accept the Philon author- 
ship of both the organ treatises. The one on the pneu- 

ls Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, 30. 

19 Carra de Vaux, Philon de Byzance, 29, 38. L'Invention de 
Vhydraulis, 338. 

•° Cf. his Notes d'histoire des sciences, 449. 

17 3 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

matte organ describes an instrument far too primitive to 
have been composed by him, whilst even the treatise on 
the hydtaulis appears to belong to a period anterior to the 
Philon of the Pneuvtatics. On the other hand, the latter, 
as it stands, cannot be the work of an ancient Greek, be- 
cause the author or compiler relates that he constructed 
an organ of the type which he describeV for a " King of 
the Inner Franks," and he also uses the phrase : " If Allah 
Wills." These passages however, may be additions by a 
copyist, compiler or translator, just as the prefatory 
Islamic invocation — Bismi'llahi ("In the Name of 
Allah") is. 

A likely elucidation of the enigma of the name Muristus 
was suggested to me by Professor D. S. Margoliouth, 
of Oxford, who pointed out that the name Muristus or 
Miristus was evidently intended for Ameristos ('A^epio-ros) 
the ancient Greek mathematician. 

We only know of Ameristos through Proklos on Euklid 
(i, 65, 11-15) where we read : "Next to Thales, Ameristos, 
a. brother of Stesichoros, is mentioned as having engaged 
in the study of geometry ; and from what Hippias of Elis 
says it appears that he acquired a reputation for geo- 
metry." 1 But even his name is uncertain. Suidas {sub 
"Stesichoros) has Mamertinos. In Freidlein's edition of 
Proklos it is written Mamerkus, whilst in Heiberg's edition 
of Heron's Definitions we have Mamertios or Marmetios. 
As Stesichoros lived about 630-550 B.C., one might con- 
ceivably allow him the authorship of the Muristus treatise 
on the pneumatic organ, but hardly the one on the hydrau- 
lis, which must be a far later work. In all probability it 
was the fame of Ameristos that%ad come down to the 
Arabs via Proklos (Bruqlus), which led a scribe to write 

1 Heath's translation. 


The Invention of the Organ. 

Muristus, when he saw a name in his manuscript which 
looked like it! 

It is certainly strange, as Baron Carra de Vaux observes, 
that Ktesibios should be unknown in Arabic, and yet be of 
such importance in Greek and Latin literature. Is it not 
possible, as I pointed out in 1926,* that the name Muristus 
is simply a scribal slip which ultimately can be traced 
back to the form Ktesibios, or, as it would be written in 
Arabic— Qatasibiyus? What strengthens this opinion is 
the name of the inventor of the hydraulis given in the 
Kit ad al-siyasa attributed to Aristotle. This work was 
translated into Arabic from the Greek by Yuhanna ibn al- 
Batrlq (d. 815) and the inventor of the hydraulis is here 
called Yayastayus, Thastiyus, Thasltus or Tasitus, in the 
various copies of this treatise. 3 

Indeed, when one sees these various names in Arabic, 
and then conjectures the gradual transformation of the 
name from Ktesibios to Muristus, at the hands of the 
copyists, in the following way, the opinion put forward by 
the present writer is not altogether unfeasible. 

= Qatasibiyus. 
= Yayastayus. 
= Thastiyus. 
= Thasltus. 
= Tasitus. 
= Miristus. 
= Muristus. 

2 Journal, Royal Asiatic Society, 1926, page E03. 
« See my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, page 30. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

It will be recognised that the passage from "Muristus" 
(with a long "u") to "Muristus" (with a short "u") is 
simple enough, and is quite a common substitution in 
foreign names. 

Of course it may be argued that we know little of the 
writings of Ktesibios, since nothing has survived of them. 
That, however, ought not to prevent us from accepting the 
Arabic Muristus treatise on the kydraulis as the work of 
Ktesibios* 1 as there are several Greek works ,that have only- 
survived in Arabic, including the Pneumatics of Philon, 
the Mechanics of Heron, the Conic Sections (Books V to 
VII) of Apollonios, and the treatises on the Automatic 
Wind Instrumentalist by Archimedes and Apollonios. 

Finally, there is the possibility that Muristus may even 
have a separate existence from either Ameristos, Ariston 
or Ktesibios, since we have several writers mentioned in 
Arabic works that appear to be quite unknown in Greek 
or Latin literature, such as the astronomer Paulisa in Al- 
Birunl/ the musical writer, Fandurus of Ibn Khur- 
dadhbih, 5 Qantwan of the Fihrist, 6 and Sa'atus of the 
Muristus treatises. 7 

Sa Needless to say, Ktesibios could scarcely have written the 
Muristus treatise on the rather primitive pneumatic organ. 

i Al-BIruni, India (Sachau Edition), i, 153. 

5 Farmer, Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, 60. Also 
called Qandurus. See Dr. K. Merkle's Vie Sittensprmhe der 
Philosophen (1921), page 55. 

b Or Qitwar. 7 See post p. 61. 




"Adeoque, quae de immani sonno Magrephse narrant, vel faou- 
losa esse, vel saltern cum grano salts accipienda."— Joh. D'Outrein, 
Be instrumento magrepha. 

r "T , HE pneumatic organ, as already shown, belongs to a 
J- period long anterior to the fourth century B.C., and 
hydraulic organs can definitely be traced to this date, 
whilst the kydraulis was certainly known in the third cen- 
tury B.C. Whether the pneumatic organ came from the 
Greeks, as did the hydraulic organ and the kydraulis, or 
from Egypt or Babylonia-Assyria, which were the culture- 
determining forces of pre-Hellenic antiquity, we know not. 
The probability is that it was known in the Mesopotamian 
plains before Greece had it. Yet the fact remains that the 
Assyrian language has not handed down any word that 
gives a determinate clue that the organ was known in these 

The earliest trace of the organ in the literature of the 
Semitic east comes from Hebrew-Aramaic sources of a 
much later date. Strangely enough, however, this fount 
has been neglected by historians of the organ, and with 
the exception of the savants utilised by Ugolinus in his 
Thesaurus antiquitatum sacrarum (1744-69), no deep inter- 
est has been evinced in this material. 




The Organ of the Ancients. 

The oldest Hebrew literature that we have, the Old 
Testament, does not mention an instrument that we can 
recognise with any degree of certainty as a " mechanically 
wind-fed instrument" like our organ. Yet there are 
writers who are prepared to conclude that the mashroqitha 
of Daniel, iii, 5, 7, 10, 15, was an early type of pneumatic 
organ. The cue for this was given by Athanasius Kircher, 
the learned, though imaginative author of the highly in- 
teresting Musurgia Universalis (1650). 

Kircher's description of the mashroqitha has been 
quoted by almost every historian of the organ, and his 
delineation of the instrument has been reproduced ad 
nauseam, for the most part erroneously. In view of this, 
it may be worth while to consider Kircher at first hand. 2 
The mashroqitha, according to Kircher, comprised a 
wooden chest, in the top of which were fitted eight pipes of 
various lengths and diameter. By the manipulation of 
sliders moved by the fingers, these pipes were made to 
speak by means of wind supplied by a skin bag within 
the chest, which was inflated by the mouth, through a pipe 
which passed along, and entered, the back of the chest. 

1 " Masmkitha (= mashroqitha), a sibilo quern faciebat, sic 
dictum instrumentum erat iroA.waAa/xoi'sivemultorumcalamorum, 
qui simul ligati & in ligno quodam in formam. Thecse adaptato 
gradatim infixi disponebantur, calami vero aperti supra, infra 
pellis obductione certo quodam ligno obtu&ibantur, eratque in- 
structum manubrio quodam, a quo dilatata cista paulatim in 
augustum 6patium coarctabatur : Instrumentum applicabatur 
labiis & insufflatione facta digitorum foramina e latere 
nunc claudentium nunc aperientium ope varius percipiebatur 
sonus pro ratione longitudinis, aut latitudinis brevitatisque fis- 
tularum, vel etiam pro insufflationis intentione. Unde colligo hoc 
instrumentum idem prorsus fuisse cum Syringe sive lieptaulo 
Panos; ut paulo post patebit." Kircher, Musurgia Universalis, 
i, 53. 


The Organ from Hebrew Sources. 

Of Kircher's delineation of the mashroqitha, Carl Engel 
said that it was not improbable that some instrument of 
this kind was known to the Hebrews and to the Assyrians, 
but Kircher's design, he added, was probably "a pro- 
duct of the imagination." 2 Kathleen Schlesinger also 
warns us that the delineation must be accepted "with a 
certain amount of reserve." 3 With these opinions, most 
people who have studied the question at first hand, will 
entirely agree, and the only reason for troubling about 
Kircher at present is due to the fact that he actually hit 
upon an earlier type of organ inflation, by the mouth. 
Whether Kircher had documentary evidence for this, or 
whether he was following a natural deduction, we have no 
knowledge. That such a type actually existed was not 
definitely acknowledged until recent years/ and it is now 
confirmed by Arabic documents. Further, it is high time 
that attention was drawn to the so-called Kircher design 
used by organ historians, which is an absolute travesty of 
the original. 5 

The next important stage in organ development was the 
introduction of bellows, either manual or pedal. We have 
evidence of an instrument of this sort dating from prior to 
200 B.C. in one of the terra cotta objects unearthed by 

* Engel, 286. 

s Schlesinger, Researches, 185. This author says that Kircher 
calls it "the mashrokitha or magraketha of the Chaldees." The 
word he uses is masrakitha, with no mention of the " Chaldees." 

i Schlesinger, The Organ, 226. 

Matthews, A Handbook of the 

5 Hawkins, History of Music, i, plate v, reproduces Kircher's 
design with only seven pipes instead of eight, and with sliders 
that do not comport with them. These errors have been copied 
by most of the English writers on the organ, who pretend to take 
their design direct from Kircher. See Hopkins and Rimbault, 
The Organ, 3. Grove's Diet. Mus., iii, 736. Stainer, Music of 
the Bible, 121. Schlesinger, Researches, 185. Audsley, Art of 
Organ Building, i, 7. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

W. Burckhardt Barker at Tarsus in Cilicia. " The instru- 
ment," says this writer, 6 "consists of a vertical row of 
pipes, the length unknown, as the lower portion is want- 
ing; they are inserted into a small air-chest, which appears 
inflated in the middle part." Commenting on this instru- 
ment, Kathleen Schlesinger says that although both draw- 
ing and description are somewhat vague, " there reason 
for doubt that this was an organ." 7 Confirmation comes, 
although the date is later perhaps, from another terra 
cotta object preserved in the Louvre. This latter was also 
discovered at Tarsus, and it shows the rear of an organ 
with fifteen pipes. 8 That the organ was known even fur- 
ther East, may possibly be demonstrated from the curious 
figure discovered on the site of ancient Khotan in Chinese 
Turkestan by Sir Aurel Stein. 9 

We now come to Jewish sources. Did the Jews possess 
the organ in common with their neighbours in Asia Minor ? 
Whatever notion the Semitic East had of the organ prior 
to the Hellenistic period, the new culture forces, dating 
from the time of Alexander the Great, became most 
marked from the end of the third century B.C., not merely 
in political life, as we see in the books of Maccabees, but 
in art and literature, 10 as we know from Daniel, iii (c. 
164 B.C.). Post-biblical literature, as exemplified in the 
Targumim, Mtdrashim and Talmud, reveal a weighty 
impress of later Greek influence. 

Since we can match almost every musical instrument of 
Greece and Rome with one in Syria and Palestine, there 

6 Barker, Lares and Penates, 260-1. 
'Schlesinger, The Organ, 266. 
* Froelmer, Les musees de France, pi. xxxii. 
s Stein, Ancient Khotan, pi. sliii. 
10 Harvard Theological Review, xvii, 334-5. 


The Organ from Hebrew Sources. 

is no reason why the pneumatic organ, which must have 
been known in the former countries, should not have found 
acceptance in the latter. Yet it has to be acknowledged 
that there is no mention of the instrument in the 
Apocrypha (c. second-first century, B.C. ), nor in Philo 
Judaeus (b. ca. 20-10 B.C.), nor in Josephus (b. 37 A.D.). 
Indeed, it is not until we come to the Talmud that we get 
anything like evidence for its existence among the Jews, 
and even this has been challenged. In the Talmud there 
is mentioned an instrument of the Temple called the 
magrephah, which is claimed to be a pneumatic organ in 
the second stage of development," that is to say, with 
manual or pedal bellows. 

The evidence of the Talmud has long been suspect. 
This has been due, mainly, to the conflicting descriptions 
of, and references to, this magrepkah by the rabbis. But 
we must remember that after the fall of Jerusalem in 
70 A.D., music generally was anathema amongst the Jews." 
Its prohibition was a sign of mourning for the destruction 
of the Temple, and the interdict has had its influence on 
Judaism up to comparatively modern times. 23 As a re- 
sult, it is quite possible that the rabbihood in the Tal- 
mudic period was not sufficiently conversant with 
instruments of music to give precise particulars of such a 
contrivance as the magrephah. 

Before we can deal with the evidence of the Talmud, it 
seems advisable, for the sake of those readers who may 
not be acquainted with this literature, to scrutinise the 
historical aspect of this work, which has been termed " in 
many respects unique among the literary monuments of 
the world."" 

11 Schlesinger, The Organ, 266. 
™ Abrahams, Jewish Life, 253. 

njew. Ency., ix, 432. 
U Oesterley and Box, 86. 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

There are two great collections of the Oral Law with 
the Jews — the Palestinian Talmud and the Babylonian 
Talmud, both of which may be said to have been finally 
redacted before the year 500 A.D. The Talmud is made 
up of the Mishnah, in Hebrew, "in the form that was 
officially sanctioned by Rabbi Yhudah I, about 190 or 
200 A.D.," 25 and secondary material called Gmara, for the 
most part in Aramaic, containing traditions of lesser 
authority. All this material is interpreted and discussed 
by the Amor aim or "Speakers" (ca. 220-500), some of 
whom hand down traditions from the Tannaim or " Teach- 
ers" (ca. 10-220), which reach back to the time of the 
destruction of the Temple. ie 

Among the Amoraim who will be quoted on the ques- 
tion of the magrephah of the Temple are, Rab, Shmuel, 
Rab Nahman bar Yichaq, Rab Mattnah, and Rabbah 
Shela. Rab, or more properly, Abba Arika (d. ca. 247), 
was the chief Babylonian Amora, and the founder of the 
Sura Academy. It was Rab who " determined the form 
and method of the Babylonian Talmud" 11 taking the 
Mishnah of his master, Rabbi Yhudah I, as his basis. 
Shmuel, or Mar Shmuel (d. ca. 254), a contemporary 
teacher, was Principal of the Nharde'a Academy. The 
disputes between Rab and Shmuel "constitute the main 
body of the Babylonian Talmud." 18 Rab Nahman bar 
Yichaq (d. 320) was a pupil of Shmuel and he also be- 
came Principal of the Nharde'a Academy. Rab Mattnah, 
or Rabbah ben Mattnah, was a Babylonian Amora of the 
fourth century, as was Rabbah Shela, the latter being a 
pupil, probably, of Rab Nahman bar Yichaq, whose say- 

"Oesteiley and Box, 82. 
"Oesterley and Bos, 119. 

JoPtodkinson, x (2), 2. 
is Ibid. 


The Organ froin Hebrew Sources. 

ings he transmits. This disposes of the historical aspect 
of the Talmud, and we can now consider what this work 
tells us about the instrument called the magrephah. 

The instrument called the magrephah, identified by 
some writers as a pneumatic organ, has been the subject 
of a two thousand years' controversy. The instrument is 
not mentioned in the Mishnah, but only in the Gmara. 
At the same time, the Palestinian Talmud, tractate Suk- 
kah, v. 4, says : 

"The Levites accompanied themselves with lyres (khir- 
nor), harps (nebel), cymbals (mgiltaim), trumpets 
(hacocereth), and numerous other musical instruments." 

It is quite possible, therefore, that the magrephah may 
have been counted among the " other musical instruments," 
or, if not, it may have been that it was not one of the in- 
struments of praise like the above, but was used for other 
purposes^ as we shall see presently. At any rate, the 
magrephah is described in both the Palestinian Talmud 
and Babylonian Talmud, although not in a sufficiently 
precise way to enable us to be certain of its category. 

The tractate Sukkah, v. 6, in the Palestinian Talmud, 
describes the magrephah thus : 

"The magrephah [is described by] Rab and Shmuel. 
One says that it had ten holes, and each emitted one hun- 
dred different sounds (zemar). The other says that it 
had one hundred holes, and each emitted ten different 
sounds. Altogether it gave one thousand sounds." 

The tractate 'Arakin, ii, 6, in the Babylonian Talmud, 
gives us a little better description of the instrument : 

" Rabbah bar Shela said, in the name of Rab Mattnah, in 
the name of Shmuel, that there was a magrephah in the 
Temple. It had ten holes, and every hole emitted ten 
different sounds, so that altogether it emitted one hun- 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

dred different sounds. In a mishnah we have learned that 
it was 54 cm. (= one ammah) broad, and 54 cm. 
high. And there was a handle projecting from it on 
the right side. And it had ten holes, each of which 
emitted one hundred different sounds^ so that altogether it 
emitted one thousand different sounds. And Rab Nah- 
man bar Yichaq said, 'Take note, the mishnah exag- 
gerates.' " 

The mishnah which " exaggerates " is evidently the one 
quoted from the Palestinian Talmud, as above, and it may 
be remarked that the latter is admittedly less authorita- 
tive than the Babylonian Talmud, 10 since "it was appar- 
ently not subjected to a final revision, and has reached 
us in an incomplete form." 20 This may partly account for 
the so-called "exaggeration." On the other hand, we 
have already pointed out that the Byzantines seemed to 
have nicknamed the organ, " the instrument of a thousand 
voices," a phrase which may have been borrowed by the 
Jews, as it was by the Arabs and Persians, and may have 
contributed to the "exaggeration" concerning the "thou- 
sand different sounds." 2 

The tractate Tamid, iii, 8, in the Babylonian Talmud, 
also tells us that there was a magrephah tn the Temple, 
and that it had a very powerful sound. The passage 
runs : 

" From Jericho they heard the sound of the Great Gate 
[of the Temple] that was opened. From Jericho they 
heard the sound of the magrephah. From Jericho they 
heard the sound of the appurtenance made by the Ben 
Qattin for the laver. From Jericho they heard the voice 

10 Rodkinson, x (1), 18-9. (2), 48. ^ Oesterley and Box, 127. 
1 Farmer, Byzantine Musical Instruments, 5, 6. 


The Organ froni Hebrew Sources. 

of the chief Temple crier. From Jericho they heard the 
sound of the flute (halil). From Jericho they heard the 
sound of the bell (celgal). From Jericho they heard the 
sound of the song (shir). From Jericho they heard the 
sound of the horn (shophar). From Jericho they heard 
the voice of the High Priest." 8 

A similar passage occurs in tractate Sukkah, v. 3, in 
the Palestinian Talmud. 

The most perplexing passage on this question is the 
one in Tamid, v. 6, in the Babylonian Talmud, and it is 
this relation that has caused most of the differences of 
opinion among the commentators on the identity of the 
magrephah. The passage reads : 

" One of them [who served in the Temple] took the 
magrephah and ' sounded ' (zaraq) it between the porch 
and the altar. No one could hear the voice of his neigh- 
bour in Jerusalem because of the sound of the magrephah. 
It was used for three purposes : (1) The priest who heard 
its sound knew that his brother priests had entered to 
worship, and he ran and came : (2) The Levite who heard 
its sound knew that his brother Levites had entered to 
sing, and he ran and came : (3) The chief of the station- 
ary men (Ma'amadh) placed those that had been unclean 
at the Nikanor Gate." 

These four extracts comprise all that the Talmud has 
to tell us about the instrument called the magrephah, and 
we may proceed to enquire what type of instrument it was. 

Some say that the magrephah was a pneumatic organ, 
whilst others urge that it was a pulsatile instrument. 
Commentators hold that both these types were in use, and 

2 The Latin translation of these passages in the Thesaurus an- 
tiquitatum sacrarum of Ugolinus (xviii, 486), has got slightly 
mixed. The magrephah passage is out of its place, and the celcal 
passage is entirely omitted. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

that both were called by this name magrefhah. This has 
led modern writers from the time of Abraham de Porta 
Leone (d. 1 612) to speak of these instruments respectively 
as the magrefhah of 'Arakin and the magrefhah of 
Tamid. 3 

The magrefhah of 'Arakin (ii, 6) is certainly an in- 
strument which could be likened to some composite wood- 
wind instrument. All that we are told, however, by the 
Ainorahn, is its dimensions, form, and that " it had ten 
holes, and every hole emitted ten different sounds." 4 The 
famous commentator, Rashi (d. 1105) sought to explain 
the passage as follows : 

" Each hole had a pipe (qaneh) which had ten holes in 
it, and every hole emitted one sound, so that altogether it 
[the magrefhali] emitted one hundred sounds." 

It will have been noticed that there is no mention of 
the method of inflation of this supposed pneumatic 
organ or composite wood-wind instrument. One of the 
later Jewish writers, Abraham de Porta Leone, suggested 
bellows or bags. This author describes the magrefhah 
at length, drawing freely on his imagination, although 
making it consistent with the descriptions of the Amor aim 
and commentators. In consequence of this, his description 
deserves a place here. Abraham de Porta Leone was an 
Italian Jew whose Shilte ha-gibborim was published in 

s Abraham de Porta Leone, 37, 41. 

I Miss Schlesinger (The Organ, 266) points to this "descrip- 
tion in the Talmud " of the magrephah " with bellows." " The 
quotation," she says, " as given by Blasius Ugolinus, states that 
the instrument known as the magrephah 0/ 'Arakin (Treatise 
xxxiii of Baby. Talmud, see Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacranim, 
xxxii, 11 and 21), consisted, as the Shilte ha-gibborim teaches, 
of several rows of pipes, and was blown by bellows." The " quo- 
tation " is not from the Talmud but from Kircher. Further, 
'Arakin is Treatise xxxii, not xxxiii. See "Note" on p. 44. 


The Organ from' Hebrew Sources. 

Hebrew at Mantua in 16 12, the same year as the author's 
death. Here is his description of the magrefhah of 
'Arakin. 5 

"The magrefhah was like a box of wood .... 
disposed in the likeness of the shovel of the bakers, 
closed in, above and below, and on all its sides, and com- 
pletely hollow within. Its length was about 135 cm. (= 2,\ 
ammah), and [in shape] bent. Its width about 54 cm. (= 1 
dimnah), and its height the same. Within it were enclosed 
ten reed-pipes, with ten holes in them, some of the reed- 
pipes being long and thick, and others short and thin. 
They were fixed horizontally and not vertically, and the 
holes of the reed-pipes, which were in an even row, were 
turned and arranged so as to face the bottom part of the 
box and not the top part. And in the two sides of the 
box, i.e., the North and South of it, were bellows. And in 
the East of the box were the heads of the ten reed-pipes, 
joined to it, at a distance from the bottom of the box by 
about 27 cm. ( = \ ammaK). And in the West side of the 
box there protruded the ends of the ten reed-pipes, open 
and empty, a short distance from the ten holes in them, so 
that the sounds of the reed-pipes could be heard distinctly, 

and not die inside the instrument And in this 

instrument were placed one hundred bags, ten for each 
reed-pipe, one for every hole. And in the end of the bags 
towards the inside, were upright irons, with a little lid on 
the head [of each] in such a way that they could manage 
to close on (lit. 'strike') and stop up, with those little 
lids, the holes of all the reed-pipes, by tapping the keys 
which were on the side [of the instrument], until, by the 
closing of the lids upon the holes, and the driving of the 

5 Abraham de Porta Leone, 47, et seq., Hebrew text with Latin 
translation in Ugolinus, xxxii. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

wind into the reed-pipes with force, there were produced 
in them the sounds, varied and pleasant, like those which • 
are produced in the flutes (halil) by the closing of a man's 
fingers upon them, when they blow into them. So the 
magrefhah emitted, quite conveniently, all the hundred 
sounds of which our rabbis speak, distinct from one an- 
other, due to thickness and fineness and length and short- 
ness of the reed pipes, and the distance of the holes in 
them from the first hole to the tenth. And he who played 
upon this instrument was one man and no more. Thus I 
imagine the form of the magrefhah and its function. If 
you are satisfied, then so am I. If not, then choose an- 
other opinion which may be more correct." 

Kircher, in his Musurgia Universalis (1650), although he 
set great store by Abraham de Porta Leone, differed from 
the latter in his conception of the magrefhah. According 
to Kircher, the magrefhah was " similar to our church or- 
gans," and although he quotes from the Shilte ha-gibborim 
as one of his authorities, he depicts the instrument as an 
oblong box in which are fixed, vertically, thirteen pipes, 
which appear to answer to "sliders" placed in front of 
the box, whilst at the back are two bellows. 6 The pipes of 
Kircher are not furnished with "mouths" as to-day. 
Printz, in his Historische Beschreibung der edelen Sing 
und Kling-kunst (1690) sought to remedy this by adding 
"mouths," quoting a certain Johannes Schiitterus as his 
authority for the deviation. 7 In this design Ugolinus fol- 
lows Kircher, 8 but Hawkins subscribes to Printz. 9 Later 

fi Kircher, i, 54. 

1 Note the title of this book of Schutterus as quoted by Printz 
and Hawkins. 

9 Hawkins, i, 256-7, pi. v. 

s Ugolinus, xxxii, 371. 

The Organ from Hebrew Sources. 

copyists, mostly professing to reproduce Kircher, really 
borrow from Hawkins. 10 

Kircher's design, in spite of the fact that it has become 
almost a " hardy annual " with historians of music, is not 
even consistent with the description in the Talmud, let 
alone the Shilte ha-gibborim, which he put such trust in. 
Whatever reservation we may allow in regard to Abraham 
de Porta Leone, we can afford to dismiss the magrefhah 
of Kircher once and for all. 

It must be acknowledged that the naivete of Abraham 
de Porta Leone in the coda of his description, disarms all 
criticism. He admits that he has no authority for positing 
the bellows or even the organ case, although he argues 
with congruity that the holes in the reed pipes could 
scarcely have been manipulated by the digits of the hands. 
Yet it is remarkable that he should have failed to notice 
the "handle" which is so distinctly mentioned in the Tal- 
mud as projecting from the side of the instrument. This 
would have given grounds of justification for his intro- 
ducing a mode of inflation, since this "handle" might 
very well have been the lever which worked circular bel- 
lows or pistons, a principle often depicted in the mechan- 
ism of organs in mediaeval MSS." 

Abraham de Porta Leone considered that the organ case 
was curved " in the form of the bow of the arrows," con- 
cave in front and convex at the back. When the " handle " 
was added to the side of this, one can appreciate why the 
instrument was called a magrefhah, because it would re- 
semble " a shovel," as the commentators tell us. :3 Although 

10 See Stainer, Music of the Bible, 122 
iii, 736. Schlesinger, Besearches, 200. 

u Ruelle, 316. Buhle, tab. 14. Grove's Diet 

18 Maimonides and Abraham de Porta Leone. 


Grove's Did. Mus., 
Mus., iii, 736. 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

this appears to be a reasonable explanation for the word 
being used, there may be a more likely origin. The root 
of magrephah is garaph, a word which means: (i) "to 
carry, snatch away, sweep away," and (2) "to grasp." 
Hence magrephah means "a ladle; shovel, etc.," whilst 
eghroph means " a fist." This secondary meaning prompts 
the suggestion that the name magrephah for a pneumatic 
organ or composite wood wind instrument, was given be- 
cause it "comprised, embodied, embraced or enclosed" 
within itself, a number of different sounds." The Arabs 
had a similar mode of expression in jama'a, which means 
"to collect, include," hence jum' — "a fist." They called 
the pneumatic organ the urghanun al-jami' or "compre- 
hensive organ."" So far the magrephah of 'Arakin, ii, 6, 
which has been considered to be a pneumatic organ. 25 

The magrephah of Tamid (iii, 8 ; v, 6) has been gener- 
ally understood by later commentators to refer to a differ- 
ent instrument from the magrephah of 'Arakin (ii, 6). 
Rashi (d. 1105), however, only recognises one species of 
musical instrument called magrephah^ since he says : 
" There are two sorts of magrephpth, one for the ashes [the 
shovel], and one for music." 16 Maimonides (d. 1204) 
commenting on Tamid, iii, 8, refers us to 'Arakin, ii, 6, 
which shows that he considered the magrephah in the 
former to be identical with that in the latter." The in- 
strument in Tamid, iii, 8, is said to have possessed so 

13 An instrument of music called the jarufa (a, word that comes 
from the same root as magrephah) was known to the Arabs, and 
I am indebted to Professor D. S. Margoliouth for calling my 
attention to the mention of it in the Talbis iblls (Cairo, 
1340 a.h.) by Abii'l-Faraj ibn al-JauzI (d. 1200). 

UMashriq, ix, 23. i* Jew. Ency., ix, 432. 

ic Marginal commentary, Talmud Bahli. Bartoloccius, 474. 

uibid. D'Outrein, 1121. 


The Organ from Hebrew Sources. 

powerful a tone as to be heard at Jericho, which was nine 
or ten miles distant." The learned Lightfoot says that 
we cannot plead the literal truth of this statement, "seeing 
it is apparent that it is uttered by way of hyperbole : only 
it may not be improper to observe, how common the phrase 
was : ' From Jerusalem to Jericho,' which is also used in 
Luke, x, 30." 29 On the other hand, we have an account of 
the Muristus hydraulis, the sound of which could be heard 
sixty miles.* Further, the reputed " Letter to Dardanus " 
of St. Jerome (d. 430) tells of an organ at Jerusalem 
which could be heard at the Mount of Olives, quite a mile 
distant.- 1 At any rate, there are no particularly valid 
reasons for regarding the instrument in Tamid, iii, 8, as 
being different from that of 'Arakin, ii, 6. 2 

It is, however, the magrephah mentioned in Tamid, v, 6, 
that has been regarded as so radically different from that 
mentioned elsewhere. A gloss on this passage says that 
this magrephah was a great vessel which was rung so as 
to make a sound, whilst another opinion is that it merely 
refers to the shovel of the altar which, being large, and of 
brass, made a loud sound when it was either rung or 
thrown on the floor of the Temple. 3 We find therefore in 
the Tosaphoth Yom Tob that three distinct objects carried 
the name magrephah — the altar shovel and two musical 
instruments/ Another commentator, Obadya de Bertinoro 
(d. 1 5 10) is inclined to a similar view. 

is Cf . Josephus, Bell. Jud., iv, 3. Strauss, F., Helcm's Pilgrim- 
age to Jerusalem, ii, 125. 

J " Lightfoot, Prospect of the Temple, chap, xxxvi. 

10 Mashriq, ix, 21. Ikhwan al-Safa', i, 22. 

1 Migne, Patr. Lat., xxx, 219. s Cf. Jastrow, s.v. 

s Lightfoot, Temple Service, vii, 3, and ix, 5. Prospect of the 
Temple, xxxvi. Braunius, 868. 

i> Quoted by Braunius and D'Outrein. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

What led the commentators and other writers to dis- 
criminate between the magrephah in Tamid, v, 6, and the 
instrument mentioned elsewhere, was the use of the word 
zaraq which has been translated on page 29 as " sounded." 
Most of the old Latin translators niade zaraq equate with 
projicio, because the literal meaning of zaraq was "to 
sprinkle, cast, throw, scatter." 5 In the face of this it was 
difficult to link up this word with the instrument men- 
tioned in 'Arakin, ii, 6, and therefore another instrument or 
appurtenance had to be imagined. Abraham de Porta 
Leone supposed a pulsatile instrument, although he con- 
fessed that he could not describe it. 6 Later writers, such 
as Kircher, 7 and Lightfoot, 8 fancied that it was a bell, an 
opinion which Hawkins gave acquiescence to. 3 Pfeiffer 
conceived a kettledrum, 20 whilst Saalschiitz favoured the 
altar shovel." The latest opinion, that of the lexico- 
grapher, Marcus Jastrow, is that it was "a sort of 
tympanum." 1 * 

There is still the possibility however, that the 
magrephah of Tamid (v, 6) was the same instrument as the 
magrephah of 'Arakin (ii, 6). Why should zaraq not be 
used in a figurative sense in the same way as we speak of 
" throwing the voice " ? Zaraq has a figurative meaning 
elsewhere/ 5 although not with the latter meaning. In 
Latin, there is a metaphorical use of the word projicio, 
where it means " to expel, drive out, obtrude, utter." 

Still, whatever type of instrument the magrephah of 
Tamid (v, 6), was, we can perhaps accept the magrephah 

SBraunius, cap. ix. Ugolinus, xxxii, 38. 
6 Abraham de Porta Leone, 37. ? Kircher, i, 52. 

s Lightfoot, Temple Service, ix, 5. 9 Hawkins, i, 256-7. 
10 Pfeiffer, 52. u Saalschiitz, 131. 

1* Jastrow, s.v. ujlosea, vii, 9. 


The Organ from Hebrew Sources. 

of 'Arakin (ii, 6) as a pneumatic organ or composite wood 
wind instrument, as most writers have done since the time 
of Abraham de Porta Leone, although the latest Talmudic 
lexicographer, Marcus Jastrow, prefers a non-committal 
definition of the instrument as "a musical instrument of 
the Temple."" 

It has been mentioned that the pneumatic organ was 
known to Greece and Rome, and in view of the close musi- 
cal connection between all the countries of the ancient 
world/ 5 there is no reason why the Jews should not have 
possessed the instrument, which the description in the 
Talmud seems to suggest. If we may accept the Talmud 
evidence, this latter will be the earliest literary reference 
that we have to the pneumatic organ, since earlier Greek, 
Roman and Byzantine writers only advert to the hydraidis 

U Jastrow, s.v. I take this opportunity of quoting the opin- 
ion of Professor D. S. Margoliouth, which he was good enough 
to express to me after he had read the MS. of the present work. 
He says : " In the matter of the magrephah, it would appear that 
the notion of its being a musical instrument is later than Rashi 
(d. 1105) and the author of the ' Anich (c. 1100). Tamid, v, 6, 
deals with the removal of refuse from the Temple, and the magre- 
phah is clearly an instrument or vessel in which such refuse is 

collected In the passage of 'Arakin, Rashi is clear that 

the same instrument is meant, .... and adds the French 
rAdelle, which is now used for ' jagging iron,' but probably, in 
Rashi's time, meant something different. He says that it is ex- 
actly the shape of a hand, i.e., a pan with a number of spouts. 
These spouts he supposes furnished with holes somewhat similar 
to the mechanism of the silencer of a motor-car. The supercom- 
mentary called Tosaphoth finds fault with Rashi's view, and sup- 
poses that a musical instrument is meant, and it is true that 
the context here deals with musical instruments. The discursive 
nature of the Gmara renders this argument of little weight. Ac- 
cording to Rashi, the music will have been accidental, and it 
may be suspected that the source of the whole story was Psalm 
xlii, 8 (7), ' Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy water- 
spouts.' " 

J 5Abdy Williams, Aristoxenian Theory of Musical Bhythm, 
9. The Talmud tells us that the Jews had their Temple instru- 
ments of music repaired in Egypt, the home of the hydraulis and 
other instruments. 


The, Organ of the Ancients. 

or hydraulic organ. Apart from the Talmud, the earliest 
reference to the pneumatic organ is that of Julian the 
Apostate (d. 363 A.D.). 


Whilst there is no evidence that the pneumatic organ, 
i.e., the magrephah, was used by the Jews after the 
destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem (70 A.D.), there are 
a number of references to the hydraidis, which was known 
to the Jews as the idrablis or hirdaulis, 16 words perspicu- 
ously derived from the Greek. This instrument, as we 
have already apprehended, was of colonial Greek origin, 
and it (or some type of hydraulic organ) is mentioned by 
Greek and Latin writers such as Philon (fl. 150 
B.C.)/ 7 Cicero( d. 43 B.C.)/ 8 Severus (fl. 10 B.C.)/ 9 Petronius 
(fl. 66 AD.), Vitruvius (fl. 70 A.D.)/ Pliny the Elder (d. 79 
A.D.)/ Suetonius (fl. 116 A.D.)/ Nikomachos (fl. 138)/ 
Heron (fl. 150)/ Julius Pollux (fl. 180)/ Athenaios (fl. 
220), 6 Tertullian (d. c. 222)/ and Obtatianus (fl. 324)/ 
whilst the art remains which cover this period, the hydrau- 

16 The corrected forms as given by Jastrow. 

" Philon, 77. The dates of Phil5n and Vitruvius have been 
adjusted in deference to the conclusions of Baron Carra de Vaux 
and Paul Tannery. The latest authoritative opinion on these 
dates is that of Sir Thomas L. Heath (Eist. of Mathematics) as 
follows. Philon, end of second century B.C. Vitruvius, first cen- 
tury B.C. Heron, third century a.d. Dreyer (Planetary Sys- 
tems, 128) would place Vitruvius as late as 400 a.d. 

w Cicero, Tusc, iii, 18. ^Lampridius (Edit. Saumaise), 113. 

no Vitruvius, x, 13. 1 Pliny, Hist. Nat., vii, 38, ix, 8, 1. 

2 Suetonius, Nero, 41 and 54. s Nikomachos (Meibom.), 8. 

I Heron, sect. 42. 5 Julius Pollux, iv, 70. 

e Athenaios, iv, 75. 'Tertullian, Be anima, xiv. 

s Wernsdorf, Poeice latini minores, ii, 40G. 


The Organ from Hebrew Sources. 

lis of the Nero (54-68 A.D.)," and Trajan (98-117)^ medal- 
lions, the Carthage statuette (c. 120), 11 the Nennig mosaic 
(c. 117-38)/ 2 the Caracalla medallion (211-17)/ 3 the Julia 
Tyrrhenia tomb (second-third century)," the Villa Ludo- 
visi fragment (fourth century)/ 5 and the Valentinian III 
medallion (425-55)/* probably enable us to fix with some 
degree of definiteness, its external form. That all these 
designs actually represent hydraides we cannot be sure. 
At any rate, the external bellows that are shown in the 
Obelisk of Theodosius are not depicted, but there is no 
reason, however, why these should not have been mani- 
pulated in the same way as the pumps of the hydraulis, 
i.e., within the organ case. 

Philon tells us that in "the syrinx played with the hand 
which is called the hydraulis, the bellows .... forced the 
wind into an oven" (pnigeus) of bronze, which was in the 
water." What these bellows were like, we know from pre- 
cise descriptions given by him in his Pneumatics, which 
has come down to us in the Arabic version entitled the 
Kitab fil-hiyal al-rtihaniyya. Here we not only have the 
cyclindrical piston, but also what must have preceded it, 
the collapsible cylindrical bellows called in Arabic the 
zauqi bellows, such as the goldsmiths used." 

This is the instrument whose invention is ascribed to 
Ktesibios or Muristus, in which the water functions as a 

» Revue archeol. (1890), p. 99. See also the gem in the British 
Museum given in Chappell, Hist. Mus., p. 363. 

10 Sabatier, Bescr. gen. des medallions contorniates, pi. x. 

u Galpin, Notes on a Roman Hydraulis, in The Reliquary, 1904. 
12 Revue archeol. (1890), p. 98. « Sabatier, op. cii., pi. x. 

11 Revue archeol. (1890), page 100. 

11 L' Arte (Rome, 1898), p. 112. 10 Sabatier, op. cit., pi. x. 
17 Carra de Vaux, Philon de Byzance, 213. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

pressure stabiliser. Vitruvius describes the hydraulis at 
length, although, strange to say, he does not explain the 
function of the water. First there was a cistern or ar\c\a 
containing the water. In this cistern there was an inverted 
funnel (infundibulum inversum = fnigeus) standing on 
three legs on the bottom of the cistern, so as to allow room 
for the water underneath. From the side of the inverted 
funnel there were pipes through which the wind was 
forced by pistons into the inverted funnel, both the pipes 
and the pistons having valves to prevent the return of the 
wind. From the neck (cervicula) of the inverted funnel 
there was a pipe which conducted to a wind chest (arcula), 
which fed the organ pipes, via cross channels (canales) 
controlled by stopcocks. In the organ pipes were the 
"sliders" called flinths, which were connected with a 
lever mechanism not unlike our modern organ key action. 14 

Heron tells us much about the same as Vitruvius, save 
that the key action is fully described, and, above all, the 
function of the water as a pressure stabiliser is explained. 
When superabundant wind was forced into the fnigeus or 
inverted funnel, the water within the latter was forced 
down, whilst the water without was forced up. It was the 
gravitating power of water seeking its own level that 
supplied a constant wind-pressure. M 

Julius Pollux defined the hydraulis as a syrinx of 
bronze, but blown from underneath instead of from the 

*8 For a complete English translation of this section of 
Vitruvius, see Gwilt, 237, and Maclean, 221. For a design of the 
instrument, see Vossius, 100, which must he used critically. Mac- 
lean says : " Except for short extracts, the dissertation [of Vos- 
sius] on the Water Organ has never yet been reproduced in 
original." This is incorrect. It was reproduced in original by 
Ugolinus, ant. sacr., xxxii. 

M For English translations see Greenwood and Maclean. For 
designs see Maclean, 223, and Chappell, 340. 


The Organ from Hebrew Sources. 

top of the pipes. The wind was supplied by bellows, 
whilst water gave stabilisation to the wind pressure. 
Athenaios also explains that the organ-pipes sounded on 
account of the water being disturbed [from its level]. 

Such was the instrument known in the Byzantine and 
Roman Empires, and, considering the influence of Egypt 
(the home of the hydraulis) over Jewry, 20 we may surmise 
that this instrument was fairly well known to the Jews in 
the early centuries of the Christian era, if not earlier. 

The earliest mention of the hydraulis by Jewish writers 
is in the Babylonian Talmud tractate, 'Arakin, ii, and in 
a tosephta to 'Arakin (i, 13), as follows : 

"And Rabbi Shim 'on ben Gamaliel says that the 
hydraulis (hirdabulis, hirdaulis) 1 was not in the Temple. 
What is the hydraulis? Abaye says it is a musical in- 
strument (tabla) like the organ (gurgrana)." s 

The name of Shim'on ben Gamaliel (fl. 135 A.D.) is of 
importance in this connection, as it has been said that 
" his decisions are founded on .... an intimate acquaint- 
ance with the subject." 3 He was a Tanna of the fourth 
generation and Principal of the Usha Academy. He be- 
longed to an illustrious family of Tannaim, the first of 
whom was Rabban Gamaliel the Elder, whose son, Rabbi 
Yhudah I, was the compiler of the Mishnah. 

Abaye, surnamed Nahmani (d. 338) was a Babylonian 

*° Harvard Theological Review, xviii, 23. 

1 Cf. Jastrow, s.v., Ugolinus, xxxii, 478, Talmud Babli (War- 
saw edit.), Tosephta (Zuckermandel edit.). 

2 Tabla, according to Rashi = " a bell," but it also stands, like 
the Greek and Latin words organon and organum for " a musical 
instrument." It also means "something square " (= Ta/3Xa), 
and might therefore equate with irkiv8o<s. See ante, pp. 5, 6, 
plinthion auletichon. For gurgrana, see Jastrow, but cf. Ugo- 
linus, xxxii, 478. 

> Jew. Ency., xi, 348. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

The Organ from Hebrew Sources. 

Amor a and Principal of the Pumbeditha Academy. His 
arguments with Rabbah bar Huna are considered of 

In the Palestinian Talmud, tractate Sukkah, v. 6, a 
similar passage to the above occurs as follows : 

" It is handed down by Rabban [ ? Rabbi] Shim'on ben 
Gamaliel/ that there was no hydraulis (irdablis) used 
[in the Temple] at Jerusalem, because it interfered with 
the music (ii'imah)." 

" Enthusiasts are not wanting," says the late Dr. 
Stainer, " who would make us believe that this instrument 
[the hydraulis] was among those known and used by the 
Jews in their Temple." 5 We are not told who these en- 
thusiasts are, but it is quite certain that the Jews did know 
of the hydraulis. As for its use in the Temple, we have 
it denied by the two eminent authorities who have been 
quoted above. It happens, however, that the word 
hydraidis equates with 'ugab in one place, and this may 
have prompted the idea that the Temple possessed the in- 
strument. We read, for instance, in the Babylonian Tal- 
mud, tractate Sukkah, v. 6 : 

"Rabbi Shim'on ben Laqish says that the 'ugab was 
the hydraulis (irdablis)." 

Again, in the Targums of the Hagiographa (seventh- 
eighth century) the word hydraulis (hirdaulis) 6 stands for 
'ugab in Psalm cl. 4, probably in conformity with Ben 
Laqish or the Septuagint organon. 

The opinion is obviously erroneous. Shim'on ben 
Laqish (d. 275) was one of the earliest Palestinian 

•4 In the Latin translation of Sukkah by Ugolinus, this name is 
written Shim'on ben Laqish through a lapsus calami. Moise 
Schwab, in his French translation, said to be from the Hebrew, 
repeats the slip in the Latin of Ugolinus ! 

5 Stainer, 132. s Cf. Jastrow, s.v. 


Amoraim. In his younger days he had been a gladiator 
in the circus, and it was here, probably, that he became 
acquainted with the hydraulis, which was one of the 
special appendages of the spectacle. 7 It is likely, how- 
ever, that his opinion was coloured by the Septuagint, and 
on a false inference that as 'ugab = organon, and 
hydraulis = organon, therefore 'ugab = hydraulis. 

A very interesting reference to the hydraulis occurs (if 
it is to be trusted) in the great Midrash on Genesis called 
Bereshith Rabbah, a work " which occupies the first posi- 
tion among the Midrashim in virtue of its age and im- 
portance." 8 Rabbi Hosha'yah (fl. 219) is generally credited 
with the authorship of the work in its original form, al- 
though the final redaction probably dates from the fifth 
century. The passage in Bereshith Rabbah runs : 

"There are hydraules players (idrablin) and flute 
players (korablin) in the land, and such a land should be 
destroyed." 5 

From this midrash it appears that the hydraulis was 
common in secular life among the Jews, just as it was in 
Colonial Greece and Rome. Here we have the condemna- 
tion of instruments of music, especially those linked up 
with the vanities of the world. This was due to the wave 
of asceticism that swept over Judaism after the fall of 
Jerusalem. The connection of the hydraidis players with 
the circus, and the unsavoury reputation of flute-players, 
especially female performers, seem to have aroused the ire 

'Daremberg et Saglio, ii, 1594. s Jew. TSncy., viii, 557. 

9 Korablin is Jastrow's reading, and it equates with the Greek 
choraules. It appears in corrupted forms as sorbalin and bor- 
balin. Jastrow also suggests that idrablin and korablin may 
stand for the instruments themselves and not the players, and 
may be read organ and cymbals (k/) £//,/?<* Aa). See Bartol'occius, 




The Organ of the Ancients. 

of the rabbis. The name zimri (wood-wind player) came 
to stand for a " lewd person," 10 just as in Arabic during 
the early days of Islam the term zammara (female zamr 
player) came to be a euphemism for courtesan. 12 It was 
precisely the same sort of thing that operated in Western 
Europe when Christianity frowned on musical instru- 
ments. 22 

Elias bar Shinaya (b. 975), the Syriac lexicographer, 
tells us that the type of music which the mukhanneihun 
played was called hydraulis (hedhrula). The mukhan- 
nathiin among the Arabs were a shunned class, and the 
drum called the kuba, used by them in their orgies, be- 
came anatheina. 15 It would seem, therefore, that these 
mukhannathun used the hydraulis, a circumstance which 
would lead to the condemnation in the above midrash. 

NOTE. — Concerning the Magrefhah of 'Arakin, Kath- 
leen Schlesinger {Researches, 202) says that the only avail- 
able translation, that of Moise Schwab, of the passage in 
the Talmud concerning this instrument was so obscure 
that she had to fall back on the description by Kircher. 
The passage cannot have been obscure because the trac- 
tate 'Arakin does not appear in the Palestinian or Jeru- 
salem Talmud which Schwab translated. It is only to 
be found in the Babylonian Talmud, which was available 
in a translation by Dr. August Wiinsche (Der Babylon- 
ische Talmud, Leipzig, 1886-8; Berlin, 1894). Of course, 
Ugolinus had already given a Latin translation of all the 
passages on the magrefhah in the Talmud. 

10 Talmud Yruslialmi, Ta'anith, iii, 66. 

11 See my History of Arabian Music, p. 45. 

-K Tertullian, Be Spec, x. For the ambubaics see Papias, 
Onom., s.v. Horace, Epist., i, 14. Sat., i (ii), 1. 
23 See Freytag, Lexicon, sub "khanatha." 



" En dehors de ces tres grandes orgues, on en fabriquait de 
petites, portatives, introduites en Occident sous le regne de 
Charlemagne par les ambassades byzantines. II parait meme 
hors de doute que les facteurs des premieres grandes orgues d'Oc- 
cident, au ix e siecle, etaient des Grecs on des Syriens." — Amedee 
Gastoue, La musique byzantine. 

IN spite of the mediocrity which Renan said was char- 
acteristic of the Syrians, it is to these people that 
we owe the passing on of the learning of ancient Greece 
to the Arabs of the Middle Ages, who, in turn, were to 
light the torch of civilisation anew for Europe. In music, 
at any rate, the comment of Renan is not altogether just. 
The Greeks of old borrowed many of the ideas of their 
instruments of music from the Syrians, 2 and in a similar 
way the Romans were also indebted to these Semites. 3 
The influence of the Syrian cities of Antioch and Edessa, 
and of the Syrian poets, Synesius and Ephraem, on the 
early Christian Church, 3 cannot be ignored, because of 
an epigram of Renan. Nor can we forget that Porphyry, 
Iamblichos and Theodoret came from Syria. 

It was the Syrians who kept many of the ancient Greek 
sciences alive until the days of Islam. It was then that 

2 Frag. Hist. Graec, iii, 481, 73. Athenaios, iv, 77, 78. 
8 Juvenal, Sat., iii, 6. 3 Rowbotham, iii, chap. iv. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

many of the ancient writings on the mechanical arts, in- 
cluding those on organ construction, were turned into 
Arabic by Syrian and Arab translators. Indeed, that 
there were books on the hydraulis in Syriac, appears to be 
hinted at by the ninth century Syriac lexicographer, Isho' 
bar 'AIL' - 

Whatever the magrefhah of the Jews was like, we pro- 
bably get some idea of the pneumatic organ of the early 
Christian era in the oft-quoted Obelisk of Theodosius 
(d. 393)/ and the portative in the Orange medallion. 6 De- 
scriptions of the instruments are given by Julian the 
Apostate (d. 363)/ St. Augustine (d. 430)/ Theodoret 
(d. 457) 9 , and Cassiodorus (d. 585). 20 Julian tells us of 
metal pipes, bull's hide bellows, and " sliders." St. Augus- 
tine depicts an instrument that is " large, and inflated by 
means of bellows." Theodoret (a Syrian) specifies metal 
pipes, leather bellows, and the fingers for playing. Cas- 
siodorus speaks of pipes, bellows, " sliders " (Ungues), and 
the fingers, for playing. 

.5 Payne Smith, 977. 

6 See the instrument delineated by Hopkins and Rimbault 
(The Organ: Its History and Construction, p. 16), Chappell, Hist, 
of Music, p. 373. Naumann, Hist, of Music, i, 194. Grove's 
Vict, of Music, iii, 737. Cf. Didron, Annales archeologiques, iii, 
277. Reinach, Bill, des monum., i, 127. Kathleen Schlesinger 
(The Organ, 267) considers the instrument of the Church of St. 
Paul at Rome (fourth-fifth cent.) to be a pneumatic organ, but 
there is no reason why it should be thus designated. 

6 Kathleen Schlesinger classes this as a pneumatic organ, al- 
though others say that it is an hydraulis. Diet, d'arch. chrct., vii, 
i, 1186. See also De Caylus, Becueil d'antiquites, ii. 14. 

1 Brunck, Analecta, ii, 402. 

*Migne, Tatr. Lat., xxxvi, 671. xxxvii, 1964. 

s Migne, Tatr. Lat., iv, 590. 

•ZOMigne, Patr. Lat., lxx, 1052. 


The Organ from Syriac Sources. 

We frequently read of organs in Byzantium, where we 
know, from Syriac sources, that they were used by the 
emperors at their festivities," and Justinian II (d. 711) is 
said to have been cured of his madness by the soothing 
effects of the organ. 1 * In 757, the Emperor Constantine 
Copronymus presented Pepin, King of the Franks, with 
an organ. 23 Wonderful organs of silver and gold are 
mentioned in the accounts of the festivities during the 
visit of the Arab ambassadors to the Byzantine court of 
Constantine Porphyrogenitus (d. 959)," and it is an in- 
strument of this period that is described by the Syrian 
author named Isho' bar Bahlul (fl. 965). Here is his 
description of the pneumatic organ : u 

This organ (urganun) "consists of two columns, 
hollow and slender; beautifully made of marble. 
And these stand upright, closely united in a skilful way. 
Below are bellows similar to those which a blacksmith 
uses, although not so large, but small and elegant. The 
organist sits above, and those who perform the song, 
whatever it may be, stand on the right and left, and sweet 
music (zemara) is heard, to which there is nothing similar 
in creation. They say that such [an organ] is in that 
church [St. Sophia] in Byzantium [Constantinople]." 

Some of the above details are interesting. Whilst there 
is no reference to the pipes, the mention of the two marble 
columns leads one to suppose that these were the pillars 
which supported the organ-case. 16 This appears to be 

11 See also Greek sources: Patr. Graze, cxii, col. 73, exxvii, 
col. 400, clvii, col. 85, clviii, col. 537. 

*2 Payne Smith, 91. uMon. Germ,. Hist., i, 140. 

"Thibaut, 174-5. » Payne Smith, 91. 

16 Pneumatic organs of the sixth and ninth century aTe shown 
by Gerbert, De cantu, ii, tab. xxiii, xxvii. Those of the tenth 
century may be seen in Buhle, pi. 14. 


The Organ oi the Ancients. 

the only Syriac reference to the pneumatic organ in the 
Middle Ages, although we have occasional mention of 
the hydraulis, and to this instrument we now turn. 

In spite of the anathema hurled against the hydraulis 
by Judaism and Christianity, the instrument found favour 
until the fifth-sixth century. In the West, it is referred 
to by Claudianus (fl. 395 A.D.)/ 7 Martianus Capella (fl. 
48o), 2S and Apollinarus Sidonius (d. ca. 483). 19 An im- 
portant reference to the hydraulis is to be found in a 
Syriac author of the fifth century named Isaac of Antioch 
(d. ca. 460). He was "one of the stars of Syriac litera- 
ture," 30 who lived at Antioch as a priest and abbot until 
459. His works have been published in Syriac with a- 
Latin translation by Gustavus Bickell, and among them 
is a poem which introduces the hydraulis. It is of suffi- 
cient interest to be quoted at length. 1 

" A wave of meditation rushed in upon me, and threw 
me from place to place, even now to that island of dry 
land which is situated in a sea of sand, yea, even to the 
lovely city of the Greeks, which I entered, having set out 
from the East to the Western Sea. 

"During the month of Kanun, which, by music, is de- 
priving the inhabitants of sleep, I was hearing every night 
the sounds of citharas (qithara), hydraules (hedhrula), 
symphonias (cphunutha), which resounded before the 
palaces of the princes. 

17 Be consulatu FL Mallii Theodori, line 316. 
M Mart. Cap., Be nvpt., 594. 

10 Apoll. Sid., i, 2. For designs see Ruelle, 316. Leclercq, 1170. 
20 Wright, Syr. Lit., 51. 1 Isaac of Antioch, i, 295. 


• The Organ from Syriac Sources. 

" At a time when sleep is sweet, nevertheless music was 
distinctly audible. The braying sound of the horns 
(qarna) subjugated sleep. On the contrary, the feet 
trod so quietly without any commotion, that the steps of 
those walking feet were not heard, and every loud noise 
was entirely driven away by the silence, and the necessity 
of listening to the cithara. 

" The whole city was like a tavern, and, with the musi- 
cal plays, they changed night into day. Everyone de- 
. vised and learned melodies on every scheme, so that each 
was pleased with his own voice, and was delighting him- 
self with his singing. The mouths of the shepherds vied 
with the citharas, and the voices of the tragedians strove 
to overcome the lyres (kennara). 

" This month of Kanun again reminded the city of the 
different ranks in it, for on none of the nights was music 
neglected under the windows of the judges, or before the 
gates of the princes. Every night, instruments, musical 
feasts, as it were, were set out in order. Nothing fails 
with a hydraulis if there be a performer. With mere 
rational speech, man overcomes the cithara. Musical in- 
struments are like men without speech or reason. Their 
strings are compressed as if they were eager to speak; 
nay, rather, if they are played by persons that can speak, 
they also receive a certain kind of speech or reason. They 
wish to utter prompt oratory, but the tongue is deficient 
in articulation. Their voices are like the voice of a man 
who wishes to tell a story conceived in the mind, but is 
abandoned by the lips and tongue. 

" In this way, the destitute, anticipating the dawn, sing 
before the palaces of the rich, and spend tiresome watches 
so as to flatter the proud. Tongue is joined with reed- 
pipe (abbuba), and the lips of the hydraulis with its low 

49 5 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

sound, sustains the soft voices, and, united with them, the 
singing can reach to the top of the palaces. It [instru- 
ment] the mute, is joined with the articulate [man], whose 
voice is heard far and wide. The sweet concord which I 
then heard was wonderful. Moreover, on a certain day 
there, when we were immersed in slumber, the hydraulis 
sounded loudly, so that being terrified on hearing it, I 
awoke. Then my brethren who were with me, and I, 
arose straightway to perform our duty, and a psalm which 
best suited the occasion occurred to us." 

This narration is quite an important adjunct to the 
historical literature of the hydraulis, since it tells us more 
than any of the Greek or Latin authors do of the intimate 
part which this instrument played in the lives of the 

After this reference by Isaac of Antioch (d. ca. 460) 
and that of the Talmud, nothing is heard of the hydraulis 
in the East for over three centuries. The same thing oc- 
curs in the West, where, after Apollinarus Sidonius (d. 
ca. 483), we have silence concerning this instrument until 
the ninth century. It may therefore be assumed with a 
tolerable degree of certainty, that the hydraulis had dis- 
appeared in the interim. 

The disuse of the hydraulis appears to have been due 
to three factors : (1) the triumph of the barbarians; (2) the 
rise of Christianity and of a puritanical Judaism; and 
(3) the greater simplicity in construction of the pneumatic 
organ. Whilst Gaul and Italy experienced the barbarian 
devastations which materially contributed to what has 
been termed the "Dark Ages," Byzantium was not so 
badly exposed, and here, probably, only the second and 
third causes operated. That the arts and sciences, in- 
cluding music, were held in contempt by the early Chris- 


• The Organ from Syriac Sources. 

tians, is testified by many authorities, but there is an in- 
teresting confirmation from a Muslim source. It occurs 
in the Muruj al-dhahab of Al-Mas'udl (d. c. 956), where 
we are told as follows. In the days of the ancient Greeks, 
and in the first period of the Kingdom of Byzantium, 

science was developed, and scholars were honoured 

Then came the Christian religion, which became fatal to 
scientific knowledge, since it destroyed and blotted out 
the teaching of science. All that the ancient Greeks had 
placed before the world vanished or was distorted. Among 
the noble sciences which were thrown aside with the ad- 
vent of Christianity was the science of music. 8 

Puritanical Judaism was equally contemptuous of in- 
strumental music, as we have seen. 3 The hydraulis, above 
all other instruments, savoured of the circus, the spectacle, 
and all the so-called orgies of Paganism, against which 
the Christian Fathers and Jewish Rabbis alike had sternly 
set their faces. When next we read of the organ, it is 
no longer of the hydraulis, but of the pneumatic organ. 

Probably the art of constructing the hydraulis was lost 
in the barbarian destruction of the writings of antiquity, 
and also by reason of the ignorance of the Christian 
monks. Vossius opined that the barbarians tried unsuc- 
cessfully to make the hydraulis, but had to remain con- 
tent with the pneumatic organ, which was more easily con- 
structed. On the other hand, it may have been that the 
latter instrument was free from anathema. Certainly, it 
was much easier to make and less liable to get out of 

After the world-wide Arab conquests of the seventh- 
eighth centuries, and the consequent revival of learning, 

SAI-Mas'udl, ii, 320. 

* See ante pp. 43-4. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

we read once more of the hydraulis in Syriac writings. 1 
This occurs first of all in the lexicographer, Isho' bar 'Ali, 
who is said to have been a pupil of Hunain ibn Ishaq 
(d. 873), a Christian Arab of Al-Hira, and one of the 
savants of the Bail al-hikma (College of Science) in 
Baghdad. Isho' flourished at Baghdad, where his father 
and uncle were in charge of the college in the Mar Pethion 
Convent in 832-6. Isho' defines the hydraulis (hedhrula) 
thus : 

"[It is] the organ (urghanun) .... skins/ on which 
they play." 

The Arabic commentary on this passage says : 

"[It is] the organ {urghanun, tirghanuri) on which one 

Another Syriac lexicographer, Bar Saroshwai (early 
tenth century) says : 6 

" Hydraules are instruments of music on which one 
plays, such as reeds (one MS. has ' skins ') which men 

The more celebrated Isho' bar Bahlul (fl. 963) describes 
the hydraulis a little closer : 

"The hydraulis of brass is explained as a certain oven 
(lannur)." 7 

The Arabic commentary on the passage runs : 

" [It is] the musical skin (bag), the organ (urghanun)." 

Payne Smith, the famous Syriac scholar, thought that 
this mention of the tannur (oven) was an error. It is not, 
since this same word is mentioned in the Muristus Arabic 
treatise on the hydraulis, and equates with the bomiskos 
of Heron and the ar\c]a of Vitruvius. 

1 Payne Smith, 977-8. 
6 Payne Smith, loc. cit. 

5 Meaning the " bellows.' 
i Payne Smith, loc. cit. 



The Organ from Syriac Sources. 

Elias bar Shinaya, of Nisibis (b. 975) says: 8 

"Hydraules are instruments which they play like reeds 
and what resembles these." - 

The Arabic commentary runs : 

" [It is] the musical skin (bag), like the flutes (shabdb) 
and wooden contrivances (manjar), and the like." 

These later notices anent the hydraulis from Syriac 
sources are probably too fragmentary to be of much use 
to historians of music, but at least they enable us to re- 
cognise that the Syrians knew of the instrument in the 
ninth-tenth centuries, and we must remember that the 
famous Utrecht Psalter, which gives us the first pictorial 
evidence of the hydraulis since the fifth century, was pro- 
bably inspired by Syrian art or artists. Further, it was 
in Syria that Arabs were constructing organs in the 
twelfth century. 9 



9 Ibn Abi Usaibi'a, ii, 155, 163. 



(The Pneumatic Organ.) 

" Harp and Tambourine and Organ, dulcimer-like sweet resound, 
For the sigh of Flutes is Frankland all a wail, in verity." 

Prince Jem, of Turkey (d. 1495). 

IN the Muslim conquests of Persian and Byzantine 
lands in the seventh-eighth centuries, we see that 
first harbinger of the dawn whose meridian was the Re- 
naissance. In the fourth century B.C., Greek science had 
marched with Alexander the Great into Syria, Mesopo- 
tamia and Persia, where it subsisted even down to the 
Christian era in important culture centres like Edessa, 
Harran and Jundeshapur. Yet, it was not until the Ara- 
bian khalifs took Greek science under their protection 
that it came to flourish in the Middle Ages. The Um- 
ayyads (661-750) were certainly interested in the question, 
but it was reserved for the 'Abbasids (750-1258), begin- 
ning with Khalif Al-Mansur (754-75). to rescue the learn- 
ing of the Ancients from the oblivion engendered by the 
Dark Ages. 1 

The libraries of Byzantium were searched for the 
sciences of the Greeks, and a host of treatises were trans- 
lated from the Greek into Arabic, many, if not most of 

*Wenrich, x-xiii, xxi-xxiv. 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

them, via Syriac. Works on the propaedeutic or mathe- 
matical sciences ('ulum riyddiyya), which comprised 
arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy, may be 
traced in Arabic to the eighth century, when we have the 
'Ard miftah al-nujicm of Hermes being translated into 
Arabic (dated 743)- 2 

It was, however, the Baghdad College of Science (Bait 
al-hikma), founded by Khalif Al-Ma'mun (813-33) that 
speeded the work of translation, and it was here that one 
at least of the works on organ construction which has 
come down to us, that of the Banu Musa, was produced. 
Baron Carra de Vaux is of opinion that the mechanics 
of the Greeks, as well as their music, was studied, first 
of all, on Persian territory, before it passed into the hands 
of the Arabs. 3 Certainly, the number of Persian tech- 
nical words which are to be found in the Arabic works on 
mechanics and similar sciences, are considerable, although 
both Aramaic and Syriac are well represented. 

Concerning the present subject we find that there were 
Arabic translations of the Pneumatics of Philon (Kitab 
Flltin fl'l-hiyal al-ruhaniyya wa mikhanlqa al-ma'), the 
Mechanics of Heron (Kitab al-hiyal al-ruhaniyya), and 
the Automatic Wind-Instrumentalist (San' at dlat al- 
zamir) of Archimedes and Apollonius of Perga. These 
works show us that the Arabs were fairly well acquainted 
with these departments of science, and especially with the 
production of musical sounds from flue and reed-pipes by 
means of hydraulic action. 

In all probability, these translations were done in the 
ninth century. Philon's Mechanics was probably trans- 

3 See my Historical Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, 
p. 272 et seq. 

! Carra de Vaux, Philon d& Byzance, 40. 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

lated in the time of Al-Ma'mun (813-33).* The Heron 
treatise came from the hand of Qusta ibn Luqa, and was 
written for Khalif Al-Musta'ln (862-66). The translation 
of Apollonius of Perga may be due to Hilal ibn Abi 
Hilal (d. c. 882) or Thabit ibn Qurra (d. 901). 5 

As for the organ proper, we have evidence that it was 
in use by the Arabs in 813-25, as we shall see presently. 
Yet precisely how it came to be adopted by them we do 
not know. In Syria, and in Byzantine lands, the Arabs 
would have come in contact with the pneumatic organ as 
early as the seventh century, when they conquered Syria 
and a portion of Asia Minor. In the eighth century, sev- 
eral mechanical contrivances of the Byzantines and 
Ancient Greeks were adopted by the Arabs, and the 
pneumatic organ may have been one of them. It is more 
likely, however, that it was not until the Syro-Arabian 
school of translators began to work on the ancient Greek 
treatises on organ construction, that the Arabian mechan- 
icians themselves began to produce this instrument for the 
khalifate court and nobility, who were always interested 
in musical and mechanical novelties. At any rate, it is 
fairly certain that the hydraulis made its appearance in 
this way, that is to say, that it was not until the ancient 
Greek works on the hydraulis became known to the Arabs, 
that the instrument was revived anew, after having been 
neglected for two or three centuries. 

The earliest technical documents dealing with organ 
construction in Arabic are those attributed to a certain 
Muristus, to whom we have already referred. That these 
are translations or compilations from Greek documents, 
there is every reason to believe. We do not know, how- 

4 Carra de Vaux, loc eit. 

« See the Fihrist, 267, 285. 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

ever, the precise date of their transmission. Assuredly, 
they were known to the polygraph, Al-Jahiz (d. 868)." 
Pere Cheikho suggests that the translation or compila- 
tion was done by one of the Banu Musa (Muhammad 
died in 873), or by Hunain ibn Ishaq (d. 873). Yet since 
the organ was known to Al-Mahdi's daughter 'Ulayya 
(d. 825), an earlier date is almost incumbent upon us, if 
we are to accept the suggestion that the organ was intro- 
duced to the Arabs via the literary contact. 

We can now deal with the various types of mechani- 
cally wind-fed instruments that were known to the Arabs. 
(1) the Pneumatic Organ, (2) the Hydraulic Organ 
(hydraulic air compressor), and (3) the Hydraulis 
(hydraulic pressure stabiliser). 

The earliest definite reference to the word organ in 
Arabic is to be found in the famous Kitab al-agkanl, or 
"Book of Songs," by Abu'l-Faraj al-Isfahani (d. 967), 
who quotes a story about Khalif Al-Ma'mun, Isma'il ibn 
• al-Hadi, and 'Ulayya, the daughter of Al-Mahdl. Since 
Al-Ma'mun became khalif in 813, and 'Ulayya died in 
825, the incident must have taken place between these 
dates. Although the organ is merely mentioned, the story 
is too good to be passed over, and we therefore give it. 7 
"There informed me Muhammad ibn Yahya, on the 
authority of 'Awn ibn Muhammad, on the authority of 
Abu Ahmad ibn al-Rashid, and [in addition] I copied 
the story from a book by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, who 
got it from 'Awn ibn Muhammad, who got it from Abu 
Ahmad ibn al-Rashid, the following : He [Muhammad 

«A1-Jahi ? , 133, 143. 

1 Kitab al-aghani, ix, 90 (Sasi edit.). 


The Organ ol the Ancients. 

ibn Yahya] said, Isma'il ibn al-Hadl entered one day 
into the presence of Al-Ma'mun, when he heard music 
(ghina) which diverted his attention. Then Al-Ma'mun 
said to him, 'What ails you?' He replied, 'I have heard 
something that has bewildered me, and yet I have been 
the most strenuous in denying that the Byzantine organ 
(urghan al-rumi) s killed with delight, but now I declare 
that to be true.' He [Al-Ma'mun] said, ' Do you not know 
what this is [that you have heard] ? He [Isma'il] replied, 
' No, by Allah.' He [Al-Ma'mun] said, ' It is your aunt 
'Ulayya, who is teaching your uncle Ibrahim [ibn al- 
•Mahdi] to sing a melody from her repertory.' " 

The Arab historian, Al-Mas'udl (d. c. 956) has an in- 
teresting passage on Byzantine musical instruments in his 
Muruj al-dhahab, which mentions the organ. The pas- 
sage is actually a citation from an oration by Ibn Khur- 
dadhbih (d. 912) before Khalif Al-Mu'tamid (870-93). 
This Ibn Khurdadhbih had some reputation as an author- 
ity on musical instruments, and was the author of two 
books on music, a Kitdb adab al-sama' (" Book of Liberal 
Education in Music") and a Kitdb al-lahw wdl-malahl 
(" Book of Diversion and Musical Instruments "). In his 
oration, Ibn Khurdadhbih says: 9 

" And they [the Byzantines] had the urghanun possess- 
ing bellows and iron work." i0 

A more precise description of the Byzantine organ is 
given by an Arab-Persian scholar named Ibn Rusta, who 

*The text, in both the Bulaq and Sasi editions, has ur'an, i.e., 
with an 'ain instead of a ghain. 

"Al-Mas'udl, viii, 91-2. 

*° The Cairo text has urglumin. See ako my History of Arabian 
Music, 169, my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, 60, and 
J.B.A.S., 1926, p. 92. 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

lived at Isfahan in the ninth-tenth century. Particulars 
of his life are wanting, but we know that he was at Al- 
Medlna in 903, and that about the same time he wrote a 
work entitled the Kitdb al-a'ldq al-nafisa, the geographi- 
cal portion of which has survived." Ibn Rusta describes 
an organ at Constantinople as follows : n 

"Then there is brought a thing called an organ (ur- 
qand), and it is made of a square [case of] wood, in the 
shape of a wine-press (ma'sara), and this latter is covered 
with strong skin. Then there are made in it sixty pipes 
of brass, the heads of which, as far as the middle, project 
above the case. These pipes are covered with gold above 
the case, with the exception of a small portion, in pro- 
portion to their sizes, one longer than the other. 

"At the side of this square thing [the case] are holes 
in which are fixed the bellows (minjakh), which resemble 
the blacksmith's bellows (km). Then there are brought 
three crosses (salbdn); two are placed on the ends, and 
one in the middle. Then they press the bellows with the 
feet, and the organist (ustadh) stands and plays (kasaba) 
upon these pipes, and each pipe he makes to speak in 
turn, according to what he [the organist] plays." 

Another description of the Byzantine organ is given in 
the encyclopaedia known as the Mafdtih al-ulum, or " Keys 
of the Sciences," written by Muhammad ibn Ahmad al- 
Khwarizmi about the middle of the tenth century. In the 
section on " Musical Instruments " we are told : 

" The organ (ur ghdnun) is an instrument of the Greeks 
(Y undniyyun) and Byzantines (Rum). It is made of 

"The text has been printed by De Goeje in his Bibliotheca 
Geographicorum Arabicorum. 

nBibl. Geog. Arab., vii, 123. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

three large bags of buffalo skins, one being joined to 
another. And there is mounted upon the head of the 
middle bag, a large skin. 23 Then there are mounted upon 
this skin, brass pipes having holes upon recognised ratios, 
from which proceed beautiful sounds, pleasing or melan- 
choly, according to what the player desires." 2,5 

The ' large skin " upon which the brass pipes were 
mounted would appear to have been used for the same 
purpose as our modern horizontal bellows. 

It is in the ninth century that we first hear of the name 
of Muristus from Arabic sources. This was the supposed 
inventor of the organ, and/or the author of works on organ 
construction. He is mentioned by the famous polygraph, 
Al-Jahiz (c. 773-868), the companion of Ibn al-Zayyat, the 
wazir of Khali f Al-Wathiq. 25 The first actual reference 
to the titles of the works of Muristus, however, occurs in 
the Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadlm, written in the year 988. This 
writer says : u 

" Murtus or Muristus. And among his books are, Book 
on the Musical Instruments called the Flue-pipe Organ 
{urghanun al-buql) and the Reed-pipe Organ {urghanun 
al-zamri) ; Book on the Musical Instrument which may be 
heard Sixty Miles." 

A similar passage occurs in the Tdrlkh al-hukama' of 
Ibn al-Qiftl (d. 1248):" 

"Murtus or Muristus, a Greek sage, skilled and in- 
genious. And among his literary works is a Book on the 
Musical Instrument called the Flue-pipe Organ and the 
Reed-pipe Organ which may be heard Sixty Miles." 

"One MS. lias "small skin" instead of "large skin," but 
Hajji Khalifa (vi, 258) has "large skin." 
U Al-Khwarizmi, 236. 1S Al-Jahiz, 133. 

ie Fihrist, 270. "Ibn al-Qifti, 322. 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

Lastly, the passage may be found, with a slight varia- 
tion, in the Ta'rikh mukhtasar al-bashar of Abu'1-Fida' 
(d. 1331):" 

" And among them [the Greeks] was Murtus or Muristus, 
a Greek sage, skilled and ingenious. And he composed a 
' Book on the Instrument called the Organ (urghan), and 
it is the instrument which may be heard Sixty Miles.' " 

This Murtus or Muristus, was also the author of a 
Kitab san'at al-juljul (" Book on the Construction of the 
Chime"), 29 the Arabic text of which has been printed in 
the Mashriq? In this work we read of a certain Sa'atus 2 
as a constructor of this chime. He is also mentioned in 
the Fihrist as the author of a Kitab al-juljul al-siyyak 
(" Book of the Octave Chime "), 2 and he is another Greek 
or Byzantine writer, whose work, although unknown in 
Greek, has been preserved in Arabic. 

Returning to Muristus, it is not improbable that three 
other works mentioned in the Fihrist may be attributed 
to him. They are : a Kitab alat al-zamr al-buql (" Book 
on the Trumpet-like Reed-pipe"), a Kitab al-zamr al-rihl 
("Book on the yEolian Reed-pipe")/ and a Kitab al- 
dawalib (" Book on Water-wheels ")/■ 

MAbu'1-Fida', 156. 

is The Bairut text has suffa, but the Catalogue of the MSS. in 
the Universite de Beyrouth in the Melanges de la Faculte ori- 
entate (vii, 289) has the word san'at, as in the British Museum 
MS. Cf. Mashriq, ix, 19. 

20 For a German translation of this see "Wiedemann's Byzan- 
tinische u. arabische ahvstische Instrumente, 164. 

1 The Bairut text has Satus, but the British Museum and Con- 
stantinople MSS. have Sa'atus. 

2 It may be read sayyah ("clamorous"). 

s At San'a in Al-Yaman there were statues that were made to 
sound by means of pipes through which the wind passed. (Yaqut, 
iii, 811.) 

A Fihrist, 285. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

It may be safely conjectured that Ibn al-Qiftl derived 
his information from Ibn al-Nadim, or else that both 
depended on a common source. 6 At the same time it must 
be noticed that Ibn al-Nadim refers to two books whilst 
Ibn al-Qifti and Abu'1-Fida' only mention one. 
Further, Ibn al-Nadim refers to two distinct instruments, 
a Flue-pipe organ and a Reed-pipe organ, whilst the 
others speak of a single instrument combining both types 
of pipe. Such contrariety, however, may be due to the 
carelessness of copyists, and we certainly have no other 
evidence of the combined instrument. 

It has already been pointed out 6 that there are several 
specimens of the Muristus MSS. on the pneumatic organ 
and hydraulis. In the British Museum (Or. 9649) these are 
entitled : (a) Risala li-Muristus san'at al-urghin al-buql 
(" Treatise by 7 Muristus on the Construction of the Flue- 
pipe Organ"), and (b) Risalat ukhra li-Muristus san'at 
al-urghin al-zamrl ("Treatise also by Muristus on the 
Construction of the Reed-pipe Organ "). The Constantin- 
ople MSS., which are preserved in the Library of St. 
Sophia (Nos. 2755, iii and iv) have similar titles except 
that the phrase al-hakim (the sage) is added to the name 
Muristus. 8 The copies (No. 224) at the Catholic Univer- 
sity of Bairut appear to be copies of the Constantinople 
MSS., and they are included in the one title: Risalat an 
li-Muristus ft' l-urghanun (Two Treatises by Muristus on 
the Organ). 9 Perhaps the oldest copies (No. 364) are those 
preserved at the Three Moons College of the Greek 

*Abu'l-Fida' certainly borrowed from Ibn al-Qifti. 
B See ante pp. 16-17. ? See ante pp. 17-18. 

* Carra de Vaux, Philon de Byzance, 30. 
9Cheiko, Cat. rais., vii, 289. 



The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

Orthodox Church at Bairut. Here, the works are called : 
(a) 'Amal al-alat illati ittakhadhaha Muristus yadhhabu 
sautuha. sit tin mllan (" Making of the Instrument which 
Muristus Invented, the Sound of which Travels Sixty 
Miles"), and (b) San'at al-urgkan al-jdmi' li-jamt al- 
aswat ("Construction of the Comprehensive Organ for 
all the Sounds"). 10 This is the only copy of the Arabic 
work on the hydraulis which expressly mentions Muristus 
as the "inventor." 

For the present, however, we are concerned with the 
fneumatic organ, and the Muristus MS. deals with a type 
of instrument much earlier than anything hitherto known 
to us. Although the Arabic texts of the Bairut Muristus 
MSS. have been printed in the Mashriq, they are faulty, 
and the present translation is based on the British Museum 
MS. which has not hitherto been used. At. the same time, 
both the Mashriq texts and Professor Wiedemann's Ger- 
man translation have been used in collating the British 
Museum text for the purpose of the present translation. 


"And it is that which makes you hear a wonderful 
sound, causing you to weep violently: And makes you 
hear a sound compelling sleep, for he who hears it sleeps 
where he stands : [And makes you hear a sound so as to 
grieve and divert : ] n And makes you hear a sound so as 

W Mashriq, is, 19. 

"Not in the Brit. Mus. MS. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

to be merry and to dance : n And makes you hear a 
sound that enchants and carries away the senses. 23 So 
when you wish to make this instrument, take three skins 
(ziqq) u tanned well and soft, each of them separately, 
and do not let bitumen (zift) u come near them. Then, 
sew up the heads of two of these skins thoroughly, "so 
that they are air-tight, and leave the third skin with its 
head unsewn. Then put the skin that has its head unsewn 
in the middle, and each of the other two skins on the 
right and left of it. Then, perforate the [inner] side of 
each skin that is on the right and left of the middle skin 
with four holes, and similarly perforate the middle skin 
on its two sides with four holes exactly opposite to the 
holes of the two skins on either side of it. Then these 
three skins are marked : A, B and J. And the middle 
skin is B. 

" Then take pipes (unbub) of strong brass (nahds), about 
the thickness of a [big]" tube (qastb) 17 the length of each 
pipe being 54 cm. (=1 dhira'). Then, let. them be joined 
from skin to skin. And these pipes are called 'the pas- 
sages of the wind.' 18 And let these holes and these pipes 
be of different size in their measure and arrangement, 
according to ratio, and according to what I shall describe. 

" Let the first hole of the right [skin] which is opposite 
the breast (sadr) of the middle skin, be measured accord- 
ing to what we wish of the dimension of width. And 

22 Cf . Wiedemann. a Cf . Wiedemann. 

U A ziqq (pi. ziqaq) says Al-Laith ibn Muzaffar (eighth cent.) 
is a skin in which the hair has been clipped off, not plucked out. 

25 A preparation for wine skins. 1S Not in the Masliriq text. 

i' The Constantinople MS. also has qaslb, but the Mashriq had 
qadlb (a stick). 

2s The Mashriq text has, " are for the passage of the wind." 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

this [dimension of the first hole] is the starting-point of 
the dimensions, and similarly the width of its pipe. This 
is the pipe [marked] D. And the second [which is next to 
it] 19 is double the first in its measurement, and this is the 
pipe marked H. And the third is three times the quantity 
of the first, and this is the pipe marked W. And the 
fourth is four times the quantity of the first, and it is the 
pipe marked Z. And similarly, the width of the pipes 
to be the width of the holes. So understand that. 

" And let the holes of the skin which is on the left be 
according to this ratio. If the width of the first hole of 
the [left] skin [be like] 80 the width of the first hole of the 
first skin on the right, then likewise the ratios of the 
remainder. And if you make the width of the first hole 
of the left skin half the width of the first hole of the 
right skin, then similarly you will make the ratios of the 
remaining holes of the left skin. And if you make the 
first hole of the left skin wider than the first hole of the 
right skin, then similarly you make the ratios of the 
remainder [of the holes] 2 of the left skin. 

" The sense of this is that for these pipes D and K we 
posit fixed widths, just as we wish, either equal or 
unequal. Then we make the ratio of the pipe H to pipe 
D in proportion [as 2 is to 1, and likewise we make the 
ratio of pipe Y to pipe K. Then we make the ratio of 
pipe W to pipe D in proportion] 2 as 3 is to 1, and likewise 
we make the ratio of pipe T to pipe K. And we make the 
ratio of pipe Z to pipe D in proportion as 4 is to 1, and 
likewise we make the ratio of pipe H to pipe K. v And this 

"Not in the Brit. Mus. MS. 

1 Not in the Brit. Mus. MS. 

2 Omitted in Brit. Mus. MS., 
inople MS. 

to Not in Brit. Mus. MS. 

but complete in the Constant- 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

is the ratio of the pipes which are called 'the passages of 
the wind.' 3 

" Then mount upon the mouth ( ? head) of the middle 
skin a pipe, its length 54 cm. (= 1 dhira'), projecting by 
itself. And its width is the width of a dirham.* 1 Then-fix 
it so that there is no vent-hole, and it is the pipe B-L. 

" Then perforate in the chest of each skin four holes, and 
let the distance between the holes be exactly equal. And 
let these holes be in the size, and width, and measure, 
according to the size of the pipes [called] ' the passages 
of the wind,' and according to their ratios. Then mount 
upon these holes pipes of brass, of which the width and 
ratio are according to the size of the holes. And let the 
length of each pipe be 54 cm. (= 1 dhira'). Then let these 
pipes be standing vertically, projecting from the chests of 
the skins. And they number twelve pipes. And those 
in the A skin on the right are marked M, N, S and X : 
and those in the B skin in the middle [are marked] F, S, 
Q, and R : and those in the J skin on the left [are marked] 
Sh, T, Th and Kh. 

" Then mount with a firm arrangement upon every one 
of these pipes, at its extremity, a 'sound-box' (sha'irat 
al-mizmar), 5 and you will get twelve sounds. Then, for 
these twelve vertical pipes in which are the ' sound-boxes ' 
from which the sounds proceed, you insert (ittakhadha), in 
the middle of them, 'stoppers' (bithiin)f firm and dry, 

sThe word "passages" is corrupt in the Brit. Mus. MS. 

i> A dirham was a silver coin equivalent to and about the same 
size as a sixpence. 

5 Here, the "reed-box" is meant. See the Mafatih al-'vlum, 
237, and Land's Becherches, 128. 

s The texts of the Brit. Mus. MS. and the Mashriq have bathyun, 
or bathnun, but the diagram in the latter has bithiin, which ap- 
pears to be the correct form. It is the Greek .Wdytov = " stop- 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

which are shut and opened in order to change the sounds. 
And this is the chief requisite in the making [of this in- 
strument]. So understand that. 

"Then to return to the pipe which was in the chest 
( ? head)' of the [middle]* skin, it is B-L, and it is the place 
of blowing and the entering of the wind. Then mount 
upon it a small skin, firmly fixed to the extreme end L, 
and it is the skin marked D [? Dh]. Then insert in this' 
skin four pipes, the length of each pipe being 81 cm. 
(= 3 shibr), and the width of each pipe being of a con- 
venient size for the lips [of the blowers]. 9 And the pipes 
are marked D, Z, Gh and S. 

" Then place the whole of this instrument upon a frame- 
work (sarir), and prepare places for the seating of the men 
who blow. Then, if you wish to play sorrowful music 
{lahn), close all the 'stoppers' (bithfm) which are in the 
pipes, and do not press out from them any air, M except 
[from] the hole of the second pipe of the second contriv- 
ance (? skin), the upper one of the first skin, and the 
hole which is in the fourth pipe of the second skin and it 
is opposite the upper pipe of the third skin, and it is half 
of the upper, which means that you close all the 'stop- 
pers ' except N, Z [sic], and T. ' Then when they blow, let 
their blowing be gentle, moderate in degree, for nobody is 

cock, tap." The Banu Musa and the Arabic Kitab al-hival of 
Pinion have Uthun, whilst Badi< al-Zaman has fithUn and the 
t^ym™ Archimedes treatises have both itoSd 

' Elsewhere called the " mouth." s Not in the Mashriq text 

the^VnSS Jioinldt." tlM Width b6ing aCC ° rdi ^ t0 **** 

tion F S fowl 16 b Tr ild n rin £ *!?* d ? 6S not confo ™ *° «« *<*«- 
t on that follows. The Constantinople MS. does not heir, us to 

N U a C nc?T T^C/' V^ ?° "*"* °^ ^-slheTotaLn 
MS Mashriq text is as vague as the British Museum 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

able to hear this sound except that grief enters into him, 
and his temperament is quieted, and sleep so overcomes 
him that he sleeps where he stands. 

"And if you wish that you should play music (lahn) 
which will conduce to wakefulness and courage, then blow 
the hole of the first pipe which is the upper one of the first 
skin [A], and the second hole of the second skin," and it 
is an upper one also, and the third hole of the third skin, 23 
which means that you open the ' stoppers ' M, S and Th. 
Then the blowing will be with violence, for the sound has 
to produce what is conducive to courage and wakefulness. 

"And if you wish to produce delight and activity in 
the temperament of man, until his senses are carried away, 
and he continues weeping and moaning, then blow the 
hole of the second upper pipes, and the third upper 
[pipes] of all the skins, which means that the ' stoppers ' 
N, S and T and Sh ( ? S), Q, Th, are opened. Then regu- 
late the sound, 23 and let the blowing be with moderation. 
Then upon that there appears in man [the mediator of] 2 ' 1 
joy and gladness, and depression of the intelligence. And 
he weeps without knowing why he weeps. 25 

" And if you wish to perplex the listeners until their souls 
become flaccid and the bodies weak, then open the holes 
of the upper pipes of the three skins and the holes of the 
pipes opposite the upper pipes, and they are the low 
[sounds], which means that the man opens the ' stoppers ' 

11 Meaning, " the hole of the second pipe of the second skin." 
22 Meaning, "the hole of the third pipe of the third skin." 
«This phrase, by a copyist's error, comes before the notation, 

in the British Museum MS., but I have transposed it. 
u Not in the Mashriq text. 
is The Mashriq, text differs somewhat from the British Museum 

MS. here. 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

M, F and Sh, the high [sounds] and the 'stoppers' X, D 26 
and Kh, the low [sounds]. Then you will see a marvel, 
because this ' compound ' (tarkib). is alien (lit. ' external ') 
to the temperament of man, because a man does not com- 
prehend upon hearing it what we have mentioned. 

"And the ears of those who blow will be stopped in 
order that there may not affect them what affects the 
hearers, otherwise their work would be useless. 

"And it will be more effective for the increase of 
the sound, and its strength and length and duration, that 
those who blow should be twelve according to the number 
of pipes. Then if you desire that, let there be inserted in 
the small skin, twelve pipes for twelve men. 

" Then let those who blow be clever and experienced in 
the art concerning singing (ghincC) and the scansion of 
melody (lahn), because it may be necessary for them to 
play melody (lahn) for the notes (nagham) of regular 
poetry, just as the player of the mismar al-wahid which is 
called the surnay (reed-pipe) and the nay (flute) makes 
melody (lahn). And let their larynxes (lit., 'the instru- 
ment of their throats ') be wide and sounding. 

"And we can only compare this instrument [the Com- 
prehensive Reed-pipe Organ] to the disposition which is 
to be found in the composition of man. It [the organ] is 
one of the best composite productions (mizaj) among the 
instruments of sound, with its manifold means of use, 
sounding all the sounds that one desires, in all the lan- 
guages of land and water animals. And no one will be 
able to construct these instruments, which are adapted to 
man, in such a way that the sound is produced as we have 

10 The design has R, and Wiedemann says R. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

mentioned, except in the manner in which this instrument 
has been described."" 

This document describes a pneumatic organ of a type 
anterior to anything that we know of in Byzantium or 
Western Europe. It is certainly much earlier than the in- 
strument depicted on the Obelisk of Theodosius (died 
393V S the fourth-fifth century Roman instrument, 19 the 
Stuttgart codex (tenth century), 20 the descriptions of 
Bernelius (c. 990) or Pseudo-Bernelinus, 1 Notker Labeo 
(d. 1022), 2 Eberhard of Freisling (eleventh century), 5 
Theophilus (eleventh century)/' or the Pommersfelden 
codex (eleventh century). 5 

In both the British Museum and Constantinople MSS. 
the instrument is termed a "Reed-pipe Organ." This is 
borne out by the description of the instrument which 
specifies pipes of the same length. The diagrams in the 
various MSS. give us merely a "bird's eye view" of the 
instrument, which, save for the mere suggestion of a frame- 
work in the Bairut MS. (see frontispiece), shows nothing 
in the nature of an organ case. The three skins or wind 
chests seem to have served, by reason of the weight of the 
pipes, as pressure-stabilising bellows at the same time. 

The blast-bag (i.e., the "small skin" mentioned in the 
text), with its four insufflation pipes for the mouths of the 

11 In the Mashriq text there is no clue for the elucidation of the 
notation in the design. (See frontispiece.) Further, parts of the 
text dealing with the tarklbat (sing, tarklb) have got badly mixed, 
which even the learned Pere Cheikho was unable to rectify. Even 
the Constantinople MS., as translated by Professor Dr. Wiede- 
mann, does not conform strictly to the British Museum MS. 

is See ante pp. 39, 4G. » See ante pp. 46. 

*>Konigl. offentl. Bibl. Cod. bibl., folio 23. 

1 Gerbert, Scriptores, i, 318, 325. 2 Ibid, i, 1000. 

Slbid, ii, 279. I Theophilus, iii, 81-4. 

« Gran. Schonbornsche Bibl. Cod. 2776. 



(Al-uryhin al-zamrT.) 

British Museum MS., Or. 9649. 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

blowers, is the only example that has come down to us 
from antiquity of this primitive method of organ blowing. 
Further, as has already been pointed out, it justifies the 
contention of other writers that in the earliest attempts 
the supply of wind was furnished by the mouth. 6 

There is no keyboard such as we know of by that name. 
In the Bairut MS. (see frontispiece) the blthunat (sing. 
bithun), or " stoppers " as I have called them, have the form 
of " sliders " not unlike the appliances delineated in Euro- 
pean MSS. which contain designs of organs. 7 In the 
Bairut MS. these "sliders" are mentioned as being fixed 
in the middle of the pipes. In the British Museum and 
Constantinople MSS., these " stoppers " are given the form 
of a tap or stopcock, and they are shown inserted not in 
the middle, but in various places. 

The question of the tarklb or " compound " of notes pro- 
duced by the Comprehensive Organ of Muristus is of con- 
siderable interest. When I wrote my Historical Facts for 
the Arabian Musical Influence* I only had the Bairut 
Muristus as a guide. 9 In this MS., as may be seen from 
the design, each "stopper" or pipe is marked with an 
Arabic letter (see frontispiece). This notation being simi- 
lar t© a musical notation given by a certain Arab theorist 
of music named Ibn Zaila (d. 1048), led me to say in 
the book mentioned above, that "if we may assume 
that these symbols [on the Muristus organ pipes] have the 
same pitch values " as the notation of Ibn Zaila, we could 

Encyclopaedia Brita-nnica, xx, 266. 

7 For instance, the Cambridge MSS., St. John's College Library, 
B, 18, and Trinity College, B, X, 4. The designs of the Muristus 
pneumatic organ (frontispiece and Fig. 1) will be better appreci- 
ated if they are turned upside down. 

« Page 104. 

9 See my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, p. 34. 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

find out what these tarkibat were. On this assumption, 
purely tentative, I gave some examples of these tarkibat 
or "compounds" of notes (i.e., chords). The recent ac- 
quisition by the British Museum of an exemplar of the 
Muristus treatise, and the fresh light thrown by the Con- 
stantinople MS., show that the suggestion cannot be in- 
sisted on. Of course, the scale assumed in these works 
may indeed be the one actually used. It is a lute scale. 
On the other hand it may have been built on a semitonic 
scale seeing that there were twelve pipes. At any rate, it 
is now quite clear that none of the MSS. give a definite 
clue to the actual notes given by the twelve pipes, other 
than that the lowest row of pipes (X, R, Kh) gave the low 
notes, and the highest row (M, F, Sh) the high notes. 

It is a pity that the great Arabian musical theorists, 
Al-Kindi (d. c. 874) and Al-Farabi (d. 950) did not deal 
with the organ in their treatises. The important Kitab al- 
milsiql al-kablr of the latter was compiled in Syria, a land 
which was evidently well acquainted with the organ, and 
a line on the organ from the master hand of its author, 
would have been an invaluable guide in this inquiry. 

Ibn Sina (d. 1037), the famous successor of Al-Farabi 
in the Arabic world of science and philosophy, has merely 
mentioned the organ en passant in his Kitab al-sAifd'. He 
says : 

"And sometimes there are made instruments that are 
blown into, of composite structure, when we get the like of 
the Byzantine instrument known as the organ." 20 

In another work attributed to Ibn Sina, entitled Rasail 
fil-hikma, there is this passage : 

"Among the appendages to the science of music, is the 

10 India Office MS., No. 1811, fol. 173. 


V _ 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

construction of marvellous, extraordinary instruments, 
such as the organ (urghan) 11 and what resembles it." 

Ibn Slna's disciple, Al-Husain ibn Zaila (d. 1048), 
was the author of a rare work named the Kitdb al-kafi 
jil-muslqi, now in the British Museum. In this work there 
is a passage similar to that in the Shifd: 

"And sometimes there are made instruments that are 
blown into, of composite structure, when we get the like of 
the organ (urghanun), and other than this." 12 

It will be noticed that nearly all these writers refer to 
the Byzantine or Greek organ. This does not mean that 
it was not used by the Arabs, but merely that it was of 
Byzantine or Greek origin. Arabic authors frequently 
name their instruments after their place of origin or 
provenance, just as we read in the Alt laila wa laila 
("Thousand and One Nights") of the Damascus lute 
('ud jilliql), the Persian harp (jank 'ajaml), the Tartar 
flute (nay tatarl), the Egyptian psaltery (qanun misrl). 13 

We know from the Muristus documents and from Ibn 
Abi Usaibi'a, that the Arabs were not only interested in, 
but were actually constructing organs between the ninth 
and twelfth centuries.^ The manner in which the Ikhwan 
al-Safa' (tenth century), include organs in a long list of 
indigenous musical instruments seems a point in favour 
of this view." Al-Husain ibn Zaila (d. 1048), who 

11 l'asa'il fi'l-hikma, 77. The text has urglial instead of urghan. 
See Carra de Vaux, Philon de Byzance, 38, and Ronzevalle, 29. 

u Brit. Mus. MS., Or. 2361, fol. 235v. 

is A?/ laila wa laila, i, 372. See my Studies in Oriental Musi- 
cal Instruments, pp. 10, 20. 

u Ibn Abi Usaibi'a, ii, 155, 163. See ante p. 16 et seq. 

Jo Ikhwan al-Safa', i, 97. At the same time, two out of the 
twenty instruments mentioned, the salbaq (=(ra[ij3vK-q) and the 
armunlgi certainly carry Greek names. 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

quotes Ibn Slna almost verbatim, dispenses with the quali- 
fication " Byzantine," which may have been deliberate. 

How far the pneumatic organ was favoured by the 
Arabs is difficult to determine. Perhaps it was only taken 
kindly to in Syria, where we know that it continued in 
favour until the twelfth century at least, since Arab con- 
structors are mentioned at this period. Two of these 
organ builders are signalised by Ibn Abi Usaibi'a (d. 
1270) in his 'Uyun al-anbd, and they are Abu'1-Majd Mu- 
hammad ibn Abi'l-Hakam and Abu Zakariyya Yahya al- 
Bayasi. Abu'1-Majd (d. 11 80) was a physician, scientist 
and musician, who was in the service of the Zangid atdbag 
Nur al-Dln (1 146-74) at Damascus. His biographer says : 

"Abu'1-Majd had knowledge of the science of music 
(milslqi) and played the lute ('ud); excelled in the song 
(ghind'), the rhythms (iqd'\at\), the reed-pipe (zamr), and 
other instruments. And he constructed an organ (urghan) 
in which he attained perfection." 26 

Abu Zakariyya was an Andalusian Arab by birth, but 
he spent most of his life in Egypt and Syria in the ser- 
vice of the Ayyubid sultan Salah al-Dln (1169-93), other- 
wise known as Saladin. He too was both a musician and 
scientist. Of him it is said : 

"Abu Zakariyya .... made for Ibn al-Naqqash many 
instruments of a composite nature, which he derived from 
engineering (handasa), .... was an excellent player on the 
lute ('ud), and he constructed an organ (urghan), and 
sought by artful contrivance the playing of it." i7 

When Baghdad was captured in 1258 by the Mughal 
hordes of Hulagu, the Khalifate proper came to an end, 

i« Ibn Abi Usaibi'a, ii, 155. " Ibn Abi Usaibi'a, ii, 163. 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

and with it much of what counted for culture in the Near 
East. It was due to the Mughals however that the organ 
was introduced into China. We have the event and the 
instrument described in a Chinese document, the Yuan 
shih, where the organ is called the hsing lung sheng. We 
are told that this organ was "presented by the Muslim 
kingdoms in Chung- t'ung (1260-64)" In another work, 
the Wang chung wen kung chi, we have the information 
that the instrument was "an offering from the lands of 
the West," and that the Emperor Khubilai himself " added 
improvements to it." We may suppose that this organ 
actually came as a present from Hfllagu to Khubilai, who 
was his kinsman, and probably it was made in Syria." 

After this, the organ passed out of use in Muslim 
lands, and was only recognised as an "instrument of the 
Europeans." In Persia, however, the organ appears to 
have had some vogue even up to the time of Hafiz the 
poet (d. 1389), since the organ (urghanun) is enumerated 
among the instruments of music in use in his Mughannl 
nama. 19 

The famous Perso-Arab musical theorist, 'Abd al-Qadir 
ibn Ghaibi (d. 1435), whose holograph MS. of the Kitab 
jami' al-alhan is preserved in the Bodleian Library says : M 

18 See the Rev. A. C. Moule's articles on this instrument in the 
Journal of the China branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (1908), 
the Journal of the Iioyal Asiatic Society) (192C) and the additional 
article by the Rev. Canon F. W. Galpin in the same journal, as 
well as the present writer's Studies in Oriental Musical Instru- 
ments, p. 30. 

J»Hafi?, Dlwan (Edit. Jarrett); 225. It is, however, highly 
probable that the organ was used by the Arabs of Spain. It is 
certainly not mentioned in the Kitab al-imta' wa'l-iiitifa', but 
see later, p. 158; Ribera, Enseiianza entre Ivs musutmanes, p. 97, 
and my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, pp. 20-23. 

so Bodleian MS., No. 1842, fol. 78. 


The Organ (Pneumatic) from Arabic Sources. 

"The organ (urghanun) is much used by Europeans. 
It is constructed of pipes arranged in a row. Behind them 
are arranged bellows from which the wind goes into the 

pipes And with the left hand they move the bellows, 

and with the fingers of the right hand they play. And 
the notes are in its pipes, and to every pipe there is a ' pal- 
let ' (lit. ' screen ') in the form of a ....(?)... . which, 
when pressed down, opens a passage (into the pipe) and 
its voice is heard." 

The mention of the bellows being worked by the left 
hand, and the pallets by the right hand, shows that the 
writer had a small portative organ in mind. 

In the sixteenth century, the organ was still a " foreign " 
instrument to the Persians, since it is mentioned in the 
Burhan-i qdti', thus : 

" The organ (urghanun) is that instrument which the 
Europeans (Rumiyan) play." 

The last references to the organ that are of interest are 
those by Tashkopri-Zade (d. 1560), 2 Hajjl Khalifa (d. 
1658)* and Evliya Chelebl (d. c. 1679). Tashkopri-Zade 
refers to the organ in such a way that it is quite clear that 
the instrument was alien to the Turks in his day. He 
says : 

"I saw and heard the organ frequently, but the sight 
and impression only increased my awe and my confusion." 

Hajjl Khalifa, however, writes about the instrument not 
from personal experience, but after consulting an older 
authority, probably Al-Khwarizml (tenth century), and 
practically in the same words. He says : 

" After him (Pythagoras), other wise philosophers added 
to what he had invented, until the turn came to Aristotle, 
and he conceived and constructed the organ, and it is an 

1 Aliftuh al-sa'adat. 

2 5ajji Khalifa, i, 399, vi, 258. 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

instrument of the Greeks (YunaniyyQn), made of three 
large bags of buffalo skins, one being joined to the other. 
And there is mounted upon the head of the middle bag 
another large bag. Then there are mounted upon these 
bags, pipes having holes upon recognised ratios, from 
which proceed beautiful sounds, fine and pleasant, accord- 
ing to the wish of him who uses them." 2a These are all 
Turkish writers, but the first two wrote in Arabic. The 
famous English organ builder, Thomas Dallam, con- 
structed a mechanical clock-organ for the Sultan of Tur- 
key in 1 599-1600, and installed the instrument personally. 3 
The mention of the European organ by Evliya Chelebl, 
in his chatty Siyahat nama, deserves to be reproduced 
here : 

" The organ (urghanun) .... is generally found in the 
country of the Franks. There you will find in every con- 
vent and church, a large organ with three hundred pipes, 
with two pairs of bellows, each moved by ten monks, and 
touched with the fingers. And when it begins to sound in 
a mournful tune like that called rahawi, the monks sing to 
it the verses of the psalter. They are in the habit of cas- 
trating boys in order to preserve their voices. These boys 
are made to stand on the upper part of the bellows, with 
which they rise and descend, singing the verses of the 
psalter to a mournful tune, rahawi, so that the hearers are 

all enraptured This tune is so called from the town 

of Raha (Edessa), where David invented this instrument, 
which absolutely must be heard to have an adequate idea 
of it."' 

2 a See ante, p. 59-60. 

» English Historical Review, v, 656. 
in a MS. in the British Museum. 
1 Evliya Efendi, Travels, i, ii, 226. 

A full account of it is given 




(Hydraulic Organs.) 

"The power then passed to the Greeks (Bum). It is to these 
people that the savants belong who have dealt with astronomv 

KS e m , e rST'/ ari ^ metiC ',?' MIM,C ' magi ° gIaSS6S > *^S 
■pneumatic and hydraulic machines, and all the sciences"-! 
Mukhtassar al-'aja'ib (tenth cent. ?). sciences.— 

T7ROM such works as the Arabic versions of Pseudo- 
-*- Aristotle's Kitab al-siydsa (Secretum secretorum), 
Philbn's Pneumatics and Heron's Pneumatics, it is evident 
that from the late eighth and early ninth century the 
Arabs were conversant with several devices for the produc- 
tion of sound by means of hydraulic action, whilst the 
treatises on the klepsydra and the Automatic Wind In- 
strumentalist attributed to Archimedes and Apollonios of 
Perga, reveal that they were acquainted with types of 
hydraulic air compressors connected with flue and reed 
pipes. These instruments, as well as an automatic wind 
instrument designed by the Banu Musa in the ninth cen- 
tury, have been included in this chapter under the label of 
hydraulic organs, so as to distinguish them from the 
hydrauhs which is a hydraulic pressure stabiliser. 

The simplest examples of pipes being made to speak by 
means of hydraulic pressure are the whistling instruments 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

mentioned in the Pneumatics of Philon, 2 and the 
Pneumatics of Heron already mentioned. 2 The musical 
tree that was erected in the palace of Khalif Al-Muqtadir 
(908-32) was constructed on these principles, 3 and the 
design for such a tree may be seen in a MS. in the British 
Museum/* More elaborate were some of the instruments 
attributed to Archimedes (Arshimidis) and Apollonios 
(Abluniyus). These were worked much in the same way 
as their klepsydras, which were known to the Arabs as 
early as Khalif Harun al-Rashld (786-809) who presented 
one to the Emperor Charlemagne in 807. B A somewhat 
similar appliance was installed in the mosque of the Banu 
Umayya at Damascus. 6 One type of klepsydra announced 
the hours of the day, not by a cymbahmi as in the Charle- 
magne instrument, but by a flue pipe. 7 

In a treatise attributed to Archimedes on the Automatic 
Wind Instrumentalist (alat al-zamir), we have the figure 
of a wind instrumentalist holding a flute (nay) or reed 
pipe (zamr) which is made to sound by air being forced 
throuh it by the fall of water into a cistern (Fig. 2). 

The Apollonios instrument, as set down in the San' at 
al-zamir (Construction of the Wind Instrumentalist), 8 is 

1 See Carra de Vaux, Philon de Byzance, for a complete Arabic 
text and Trench translation of the Pneumatics. 

■* Schmidt and Nix have made a German translation of the 
Pneumatics from the Greek and the Mechanics from the Greek 
and Arabic. 

s Journal, Boyal Asiatic Society (1897), 40, 42. 

1 Brit. Mue. MS., Or. Add., 23391, fol. 19. 

5 Mon. Germ. Hist., i, 194. « Ibn Battuta, i, 209. 

7 See ante p. 14. 

s This is the title in the Brit. Mus. MS. The Bairut MS. is en- 
titled 'Amal alat al-zamr (" The Making of the Wind Instru- 
ment"). There is no particular reason for supposing that these 


1/ \*v>^' I v 

i ' 


TUT 1 ! 


X '5 

2n a 


—1 » 


British Museum MS., Or. Add. 23391. 

The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

quite an elaborate affair. It is made of three compensating 
cisterns, one on top of the other, the bottom one having 
two divisions. The top cistern (khazanat al-md') A, 9 sup- 
plied the water, which flowed from it through a channel 
(mi'sab) B, on to a water wheel (dfdab) C, emptying it- 
self into the cistern X. On the axis of the water wheel 
there was a cogwheel (dd'ira) D, which interlocked with 


another cogwheel which worked on a vertical axis 
('amud), E, at the bottom of which there was a disc (nusf 
dd'ira) F, with a portion of it cut out, G. This disc, in 

works " attributed " to Archimedes and Apollonios are not genu- 
ine. We certainly do not possess Greek originals, but we have 
several works by these authors that have survived in Arabic only, 
viz., three books of the Conies and the Sectio Bationis of Apol- 
lonios, and the Liber Asmmptorum, of Archimedes (?). 

9 The Roman letters that I have added to the designs so as to 
elucidate the text do not correspond with the Arabic notation. 

81 7 



Showing the mechanism of the water-wheel cistern (X). 
British Museum MS., Or. Add. 23391. 

The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

rotating, lifted alternately, two rods (qadlb) H, which 
opened and closed alternately two valves (bab) J, in the 
bottom of the cistern X. 

Above is the Arab artist's design of the mechanism of 
the two upper cisterns (Fig. 3). 

This design is not drawn to scale, nor is it even in per- 
spective, but reference to the complete design of the in- 




■V -** 




3 "• 





Showing the two valves (J) through which the water passes from 
the water-wheel cistern (X) to the two air compressing cisterns (K). 

British Museum MS., Or. Add. 23391. 

strument based on a reconstruction made by Wiedemann, 
will serve as a corrective. See Fig. 7. It will be noticed 
that one of the two divisions of the lowest cistern K, has 
been squeezed into the left-hand corner of Fig. 3 so as to 
show how the disc F lifted the rod H and the valve J. 
A better idea of these rods and valves is given by the 
artist in Fig. 4. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

In each of the two divisions of the bottom cistern K, 
there was a lever working on a fulcrum M, one end having 
a cup N, and the other end having a counterweight (rum- 
mana) O. This lever moved up and down according to 
whichever end had the preponderance. When the water 
poured through the valve J into one of the divisions K, 
it fell into the cup N, which, when filled, had the pre- 
ponderance, and descended. It closed the valve P at the 



Showing the two air compressing cisterns (K), shut and open. 
British Museum MS., Or. Add. 23391. 

bottom of the division in its descent, through which air 
had passed previously into the division. Here is the 
artist's design of the bottom cistern K with its two 

The water gradually accumulated in the division, and, 
as it rose, the air that was already in this division was 
driven out through a wind-pipe (unbiib al-rlh) Q, 
equipped with a non-return valve (bdb midfa') R, into a 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

wind-chest (the rukba of the Banu Musa.) S, and from 
there it passed into a sound-box (habba) T, eventually 
sounding the flue-pipe (nay). 

Fig. 7 shows the composite instrument reconstructed. 

k. 6*jL<$y» y * 

Jl^lH* K. 


Showing the wind-pipes (Q) which convey the wind from the air 

compressing cisterns (K), through the valves (R) to the transverse 

wind-chest (S). 

British Museum MS., Or. Add. 23391. 

The principle of Apollonios was borrowed and im- 
proved by the Arabs, as we know from the elaborate 
treatise written by the Banu Musa (ninth century) entitled 
The Instrument which Plays by Itself (Al-dlat illatl 


r -% i 

The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

OKGAN. (Reconstructed.) 

Showing the three cisterns. 

tuzammir binafsihd). The three " Sons of Musa " (Banu 
Musa) were named Muhammad (d. 873), Ahmad, and Al- 
Hasan. They were probably the most celebrated Arab 
scientists of their day. Khalif Al-Ma'mun (813-33), tne 
great patron of learning, gave them positions at the Bait 
al-hikma (" House of Wisdom "), the College of Science at 
Baghdad, together with Yahya ibn Abl Mansur (d. 831) 
and other scientists. They "attracted translators from 
other countries," and many Greek treatises were translated 
there which "revealed the marvels of science" to the 
Eastern world, and later to the West. M 

The author of the Fihrist (d. 995-6) says that the fav- 
ourite sciences of the Banu Musa were geometry, mechan- 
ics, music, and astronomy." Ibn Khallikan (d. 1284) 
also assures us that music and mechanics were among 
their accomplishments. 12 Yet not a solitary work on music 
is mentioned under their names in the Fihrist nor by Ibn 
al-Qiftl, unless the Kitab al-urghamin (Book of the Or- 
gan) mentioned in another part of the Fihrist may be 
counted as theirs. 13 Ahmad, we know, was the author of 
the Kitab al-hiyal (Book of Mechanics). The treatise on 
The Instrument which Plays by Itself that has come down 
to us under the name of the Banu Musa may possibly 
have come from the hand of Ahmad. 

This treatise, which is to be found in the library of the 
Three Moons College of the Orthodox Greek Church 
at Bairut, Syria, appears to be a solitary exemplar. The 
copy dates from the twelfth century, and the Arabic text 

10 Fihrist, 43. "Ibid. «Ibn Khallikan, ii, 315. 

is Fihrist, 285. Collangettes (Etude sur Ja musique arabe, 382) 
mentions a work on muei'c by the Banu Musa. The authority was 
probably Casiri (i, 418). It is erroneous. What the latter trans- 
lates as a Liber de musica is, in the text, a Kitab aUqarastiini 
See my Hist, of Arab. Music, 128. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

has been printed in the Mashriq with an introduction and 
explanatory notes by the late Reverend Professor Maurice 
Collangettes." The work is of such great interest, that 
a complete translation is given here. Throughout the 
treatise, references are made to diagrams which would 
explain the figures (alphabetical) used. Unfortunately, 
not a solitary diagram has been preserved in the Bairut 
MS., and' even the figures mentioned are .not always 


"We wish to explain how an instrument (ala) is made 
which plays by itself continuously in whatever melody 
(lahn) we wish, sometimes in a slow rhythm (iq« thaqil) 
and sometimes in a quick rhythm (iqa' kkaflf), and also 
that we may change from melody to melody when we 
so desire. And because the perpetual organ (zamr) is 
only played by means of a perpetual wind, we will first 
begin to explain how an instrument is made from which 
a perpetual wind supply arises. 

"We make a vessel (ina'J of this kind. Its length 
108 cm. (= 2 dhira'), by a breadth of 108 cm., by a height 
of 1 08 cm., and we mark upon it A B J B. ie And we 
divide it into two halves by the surface (sath), H Z and 
K L In one of the two divisions (qism), in this case it 
is the division A J Z H, there is a cup (hand) H T 
mounted upon the line (satr) T Y, working upon the axis' 

U Mashriq, ix, 444-58. 

« I have endeavoured to correct these in brackets 



The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

(mihwar) K. And at the end Y of the lever (mastara) 
there is a weight (thiql). The cup H T ascends to the 
top of the division if this cup is empty, and whenever it 
is filled with water it descends from the top of the divi- 
sion, and the weight which is upon the end Y ascends 
from the lever T Y. Then it moves the cup H T upwards 
and downwards upon the axis K, opening and closing, on 
the bottom of this division, a valve (bab mathun) upon 
which is K [? L]. Its diameter will be 13.50 cm. (=6 
isba'). And that is because we join the cup H T to the 
valve K [? L] by means of a chain or rod, so that when 
the cup H T ascends, the valve L, which is in the bottom 
of this division, is opened, and when this cup descends 
the valve is closed so that nothing passes through it. 

" Next, there goes out from the cover of the division, 
we mean the surface H [ ? J] Z, a pipe upon which is M N, 
its diameter being 2.25 cm. (= 1 isba'). And the making 
of the part of its end will be firm so that no air goes out 
from it when the valve K [.? L] is shut, either to the out- 
side of it or to the division upon which is H Z D B. And 
the making of the division upon which is H Z D B will 
be firm. 

"Then it is clear that when the water is poured continu- 
ally into the cup H T, the cup will descend, and in its 
descent it will shut the valve K [? L]. Then it will over- 
flow, and it [the water] will accumulate in this division 
A J Z H gradually. Then as for the air which is in it 
[the division], there is no outlet for it anywhere except 
by the pipe M N. On that account, it [the air] will be 
continually going out from this pipe with the continual 
descent of the water into the division A J Z H. And 
because the supply (madda) of the air is cut off on the 
filling of the division A J Z H with water, then for that 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

reason there is need of the division HZDB, which is 
similar to it. And in it also are some of the devices 
(ala) which we have described, and will describe in what 
follows, like those which are in the division A J Z H, in 
order that the two of them may be compensative until, 
when the exit of the air from the pipe M N is cut off on 
the filling the division A J Z H with water, the air goes 
out continuously from the pipe S X, which is mounted 
upon the surface Z D, which is the cover of the division 
upon which is H Z D B. So, as long as the water con- 
tinues pouring into the division HZDB, then the air 
goes out into the pipe S X. 

" And we shall describe the arrangement in which there 
is the cutting off of the water from the division which is 
filled first, and comes to the last empty division. When 
the water is cut off from one of the two divisions, and in 
this case it is the division A J Z H, the cup H T empties 
itself from a small hole in the bottom of it at T. Then, 
when the water empties from it, the weight which is at K 
[ ? Y] descends, and the cup H T ascends, and draws the 
valve [L] and opens it. Then the water which is in the 
division A J Z H goes out from the valve Y [? L] until 
none of it remains. 

" And the air is compelled to succeed the water which 
goes out from A J Z H, and it has no way to enter into it 
except by the valve K [ ? L]. Yet since water goes out 
sometimes and goes in sometimes (just as happens to ves- 
sels which are narrow of mouth, when we turn them upside 
down in order that the water may be emptied from them), 
it occasionally happens in this state that the exit of the 
water from the division A J Z H is retarded. And there 
is no way to make the air enter into this division from the 
pipe M N, because it is imperative that the air should not 


■a^MariffMtf: """■ ' ^ J * ^ 

The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

return through the pipe M N into the division A J Z H. 
For that reason we make a thin pipe mounted on the sur- 
face J Z, upon which is F S, its end, upon which is F (and 
it is the upper end) is fixed to the surface J Z, and the end 
S, which is the lower end, is" in contact with the bottom of 
the cup H T, which was empty. Then the supply 
(madda) of the air comes to this division on the going out 
of the water from it. 

"And we also make another pipe, like the pipe F S, 
mounted on the surface Z D of the division HZDB, like 
what we have described of the structure of the pipe F S, 
in order that it may act when the water goes out from the 
division H Z D B by its valve which is in the bottom of it, 
and it is like the valve K [ ? L] [in the division A J Z H]. 
Then if we explain that the water does not cease flowing 
into one or other of the two divisions continually, accord- 
ing to the arrangement which we said we would describe, 
it is necessary that it [the water] should go out, and the 
air also, from the division into which the water pours 
through one of the two pipes M N and S X. 27 And it is not 
possible that it should return by the other one of the two 
divisions on account of what we will describe also. 

" But the air comes to a place sharing the two ends M 
[ ? N] X of the two pipes M N and S X, and it is the 
kurra (sphere) N X Q, and this also has a neck ('unq) 
upon which is Q, which enters into a specific junction 
(nikba ma'miila) upon which is R S [ ? Sh] T, as we have 
drawn, fixed symmetrically in it by a paste (lajan) is or 
glue (lizaq). And only the end of the 'organ-pipe' 

11 There is something wrong with the text here. The water 
could not have entered by these pipes, which merely carried the 
air to the kurra, 

m The text has lahan, but lajan is evidently intended. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

(surnay) upon which is B [?Th] and in which is the 
'sound-box' (habbat al-musawwita), is entering into the 
junction R S [ ? Sh] T, arranged in it, as we have drawn, 
m order that the air may collect and be compressed con- 
tinually in the kurra N X Q, and in the junction R S 
[? Sh] T, and there will not be an outlet to it except from 
the head of the sounding-reed upon which is B [ ? Th]. 
And for that reason the sound becomes continuous, not 

" And as for the reason why the air does not return by 
either of the two pipes M N and S X into the two divi- 
sions A J Z H and H Z D B, then that is because of our 
fixing two small valves, which are mounted upon the two 
ends Z [? N] X of the two pipes M N and S X, in order 
that their opening shall be in the interior of the kurra 
N X Q. The result is that when the air goes out from 
the two divisions [? division] A J Z H by the pipe M N 
into the kurra NXQ, the valve which is at the end N is 
opened by the air forcing it, and the other valve which is 
at the end X is closed because the air forces it also and 
shuts it, so that none of it [the air] returns by the pipe X 
S into the division H Z D B. And similarly, it happens 
to both [valves ?] when the air goes out from the division 
H Z D B by the pipe S X into the kurra NXQ. Then 
it is clear that the water, if it were continually flowing 
into one of the two divisions, the air would be continually 
going out from the ' sound-box ' upon which is B [ ? Th], 
so that there would result from this a continuous sound in 
the 'organ-pipe' (surnay) upon which is L [?Th] H 

"And it is only the arrangement which is in it that 
makes the water which is in it, continually flowing, at one 
time into the division A J Z H, and at another time into 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

the division HZDB, and it [the arrangement] is what 
we shall describe. 

"We make a large cistern (haud), its length 108 cm. 
(=2 dhira') by a breadth of 67.5 cm. (= \\ dhira'), by a 
heigh}: of 27 cm. (=5 dhira'). And upon it S T X [? D 
Z Gh.] It has four legs, the length of each being 18 cm. 
(=i dhira') mounted on the surface J R [? Z] D of the 
vessel (ind') A B J D. And we may dispense with that 
when we wish. And we set up beside one of its two heads 
(and it is the one upon which is H S) a wide pipe, its dia- 
meter 5.625 cm. (= 2| isba'). Then its lower end is fixed 
to the bottom of this large cistern and is projecting from 
it to the outside of the bottom about 4.5 cm. (=2 isba'). 
Then it stands up to nearly two-thirds the height of the 
cistern in its inside. Then it is bent until its end comes 
near one-third of the height of the cistern. Upon it is 
A B J. And we mount upon its end, upon which is H, a 
valve, its diameter 5.625 cm. (=2^ isba'), and we fix upon 
the male plug (dhakar) of it, a rod, so that it works freely, 
the male plug being covered by the female (unthd). 

" And we make also, a large tap (blthttn), for the pas- 
sage of the water, its diameter, 5.25 cm. (=2^ isba'), and 
upon it is A D. And its end upon which is A, is mounted 
in the inside of the end A of the pipe A B J, and the end 
D penetrates the surface J R [ ? Z] and comes near to the 
bottom of the cup H T which is in the division A J Z H, 
but fixed to the surface J Z with a firm sure fixing. 

" And we make also a small cup of the height of 9 cm. 
(=4 isba'). Upon it is D, and it comprises the end D of 
the tap (blthan) A D. And let its width be according to 
what would break the strength of the water which empties 
into it from the tap A D, in order that the air may be able 
to go out by the tap D A. At the bottom of it is also a 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

nail (mismar). When the cup [H T] [in division A J Z H] 
begins to empty, the nail enters into the hole T of the cup 
H T, in order that the hole T may not be blocked by any 
foreign matter (ashyd') that may be in the water. 

" So when this small cup is full, it overflows quickly. 
Then the cup H T [which is underneath it] fills and 
descends, and the valve K [ ? L] is closed. And the cup 
H T also overflows and the water collects in the division 
A J Z H, and the air goes out from it by the pipe M N 
until it comes to the 'organ-pipe' (mismar) upon which 
is Th, as we have explained. 19 Then the sound is pro- 
duced also. 

" Then as for the pipe F S, which is in the cup H T, 
the water flows from it into the outside of the divi- 
sion because the end S is immersed in the water which is 
in the cup H T, and for that reason the air does not go 
out from it. And it has been in our power to make it only 
when required in emptying the division, and none of it 
[the air] goes out otherwise. But we have left it in this 
state, on account of its usefulness in making the air uni- 
form which goes out by the 'organ-pipe' (mizmar), be- 
cause the air, when it is strong against the 'organ pipe' 
to an intense degree, it possibly shuts it, and no sound arises 
from it. But when the pipe F S is open, the water goes out 
by it from the cup H T, flowing with considerable egress 
into the outside of the division. So it breaks the strength 
of the air on account of that, until it is strong enough to 
wind (atbaq) the 'sound box' (habba) of the 'organ- 
pipe' (mizmar). 

" And similarly, we make in the head T X of the [large] 

■" Here the author changes his nomenclature, and speaks of the 
mizmar instead of the surnay. 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

cistern DSTX and the division H Z D B, a thing like 
what we have made in the other head, I mean, like the 
small cup H [ ? ] D A [ ? ], and the tap (blthun) D A, and 
the bent pipe A B J [which is attached to it], and the valve 
J [ ? H] which is mounted on the end H [ ? J] of the bent 
pipe A B J. 

" Then we make a half -disc (nusf halqa) the breadth of 
which is 4.5 cm. (=2 isba'), and its thickness a uniform 
one, but its diameter according to what is between the 
valve H and its like, upon which is Z H T, and upon its 
diameter RBQ. And the centre of its circle is Y, and it 
is parallel to the bottom of the cistern, and nearly touch- 
ing the valve H, and its parallel also is the horizon. And 
it [the half -disc] turns round under these two valves, upon 
a [vertical] pillar ('amad) K Y L, and let the mounting of 
this pillar in the straight side (qitr) be firm. 

" Then when this half-disc turns round under one of the 
two valves, the rod which is upon the male plug of the 
valve rises up, and the valve is opened, and the water 
which is in the cistern DSTX enters through this opened 
valve, because we always make this cistern full of water. 
Then it flows through the large bent pipe, and through the 
large tap (blthun), until it comes to the division upon 
which it is mounted. And the other like valve will be 
closed [and] no water will enter through it, nor does the 
water cease going down into that division until it [the rod] 
reaches the end of the arc (qaus), and the straight side 
upon which is T, as far as the male plug (dhakar) of the 
valve A B J, then it lifts (lit. ' pushes ') it, and the valve J 
is opened, until the water flows into the division A J Z H. 
And in order that the supply of the air may be cut off 
from the ' organ-pipe ' (mizmar) at any time, it is neces- 
sary that the valve (which is like the valve J) should not 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

be shut, but that the two will be open until the water col- 
lects in the division A J Z H, and the water [ ? air] goes 
out from the two pipes M N and N X together into the 
' organ-pipe ' (mismdr). Then when the air which goes out 
through the pipe M N, is strong upon that, the end of the 
arc (qaus) and the straight, side (qitr) upon which is Z, 
[and] the rod which adheres to the male plug (dhakar) of 
the like valve, separate. Then, upon that, it [the valve] is 
closed, and the water is cut off from the division H Z D B, 
and by that the water is emptied from the division H Z D B, 
as we have explained before in regard to the division 
A J Z H. So it will be clear from what we have described, 
that if the turning of the half-disc be continuous, then the 
water comes constantly into one of the two divisions for a 
long time, or in both of them for a short time. Then for 
that reason, the going out of the air by one of the two 
pipes M N and S X, or by both of them for a short time, 
is not cut off, and it reaches the ' organ-pipe ' (mizmdr) so 
long as the large cistern is full of water, and the half-disc 
turns round under the two valves. 

"Next, we make the ends of this [vertical] pillar 
('amud), fixing that end which is in the straight side of 
the half-disc upon which is K (and it is the lower end), 
goes round in a hole in a block (libna) mounted on the 
bottom of the large cistern, and the other end is that 
which goes round in the cross-beam upon the end of which 
is M N. And these two ends are mounted upon the two 
ends of the two columns (ustuwdn) 30 mounted upon the 
end of the large cistern upon which are M S [and] N X. 
Next, we make a little wheel (dd'ira) furnished with cogs 

20 A Persian word, perhaps from the Greek orod. 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from. Arabic Sources. 

(danddnja), 1 and a compartment (bait), in the midst of 
which is a pillar ('amud) K Y L, with angles (zdwiya) 2 
as we have drawn them, in order that it [the little wheel] 
may go round with the turning of the pillar K Y L. 

"And we make also, another strong pillar ('amud) of 
which the ends go round in the two columns (ustuwdn) 
M S [and] N X, in the two holes S Z [ ? Q]. And it passes 
alongside of the inside of the wheel F furnished with 
cogs. And we make in the pillar where it touched the 
wheel, a screw (laulab)? upon which is D [ ? R], meeting 
the cogs of the wheel [F] so that when the screw goes 
round it makes the wheel F [with the cogs] go round with 
its turning. 

" And we make a water-wheel (duldb) having six float- 
boards (burda), i upon which is S [? Sh] B [? T]. And it 
is fixed in the middle of the pillar upon which is S W 
[ ? Q]i on angles (zaiviya) arising from the middle of the 
water-wheel S [Sh] B [T]. 

" Next, we make two long supports (ustuwdn), mount- 
ing their gear ('udda) upon the ends of the large cistern 
upon which is R [ ? D] $T X [ ? H], and we make them 
removable if we wish that. Upon them is D S X and 
T D. s And if the need compels us we make four supports. 
Next, we mount upon them the cistern H D [and] S T, 
and we make its length 67.5 cm. (= \\ dhird') and its 
breadth 67.5 cm., and its height 27 cm. (= \ dhird). 
And there goes out from the bottom of this cistern a long 
tap (bithiin) upon one of the two ends which is X. And 
we attach it to the bottom of the cistern, and upon the 

1 From the Persian danddna = "a tooth." 

8 Meaning the angles of a quadrangular pillar. 

*A Persian word. i The text has narda. 

i These letters cannot be correct. 

97 8 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

other end, and it is that which ends at the water-wheel 
S B [? Sh T], And it is possible that we may- 
make the flow of water into the cistern H D S T from 
a river or from a reservoir in which there is water, in order 
that this cistern may always be full. Then it is clear that 
the water, when it goes down from the cistern HDST, 
through the tap X A, flows upon the water-wheel S B 
[? Sh T]. This water-wheel goes round, and with its 
turning there goes round the screw (laitlab) upon which is 
Z [ ? R], because they are upon one beam (sahm), and it is 
S F [ ? O]. So when the screw goes round, the wheel 
(dd'ira) upon which is F goes round (and in it are the 
cogs). And there goes round with them the half-disc 
(nusf halqa) upon which is Z H T in the large cistern, 
because these two are upon one pillar, and it is L B 

" And it has been explained that when the half-disc 
upon which is Z H T, is continuous of revolution, the 
water is continuous of descent into one of the two divi- 
sions A J Z H and H Z D B, or into both of them for a 
short space during the time of the removal when the tap- 
(blthiin) A D and its like are opened." 

Up to this point the Banu Musa are describing the wind- 
producing part of the apparatus, and a design of this is 
given here which is based on details supplied by the late 
Professor Dr. Wiedemann (Fig. 8). 

The Banu Musa then proceed to describe the "organ- 
pipe," and the automatic arrangement by which it was 

"Then we make upon every one of the holes of the 
' organ-pipe ' (surndy) 6 B H [ ? Th Kh] up to eight [holes], 

6 The author here drops the term mizmar and returns to the 
term surndy. 


ORGAN. (Reconstructed.) 

Showing the three cisterns, (a) The water-cistern, (b) The water- 
wheel and valves cistern, (e) The air-compressing cisterns, open 

and shut. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

a 'pallet' (bab matkun), 7 the width of which is according 
to the width of the hole. And we do not make for the 
ninth hole a ' pallet ' because if these eight are shut, the 
ninth hole gives its note, and there is no need to close it 
afterwards. And we fix the 'pull-downs' (farkh) of the 
' pallets,' I mean the male plugs (dhakar), upon the ends 
of levers (mastara). But in every one of the levers is a 
pin (mihwar), [which makes] the lever work as we have 
drawn it. Nevertheless we make in the middle of the 
levers near the bridges (majaz) the sign J. And We make 
the end of every lever upon which the male plug of the 
' pallet ' is fixed, heavier than the end upon which is D, so 
that the 'pallet' may close securely by itself. And the 
end D, when it is touched (ghamaza) upon, goes down, 
[and] the ' pallet ' (tabaq al-bdb) goes up along with the 
end of the lever upon which is B, which is placed upon it. 
And when the hole is opened it gives the note which be- 
longs to this hole. And when the end D of the lever is 
free and is not being touched, the ' pallet ' is closed, and 
there does not go out from this hole any sound at all. 
And in this fashion the eight holes are opened and closed. 
"And as for our composing the notes of the melodies 
(lahn) which we wish [to be played], it is according to 
what we shall describe. We make a cylinder (barbakh),* 
round, closed at the two heads, its length being according 
to the distance in which are the eight holes in the ' organ- 
pipe ' (surnay) or rather greater. And the diameter is 27 
cm. (= 1 shibr) or a little more. Upon it is H W. And 
we mount in the middle of it a pillar ('amud) or square 

7 Here the nomenclature of organ builders is used, so as to 
make the description more intelligible. 

s The editor of the text says that the barbahh is like the unbub 
or qastal (a pipe). 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

rod (qadlb murabba') of brass, upon which is R [ ? Z] IJ. 
and it will project from its head [? both heads] so that 
it reaches to the two columns (ustuwdn) R (? Z] H and 
T F [? Y] or to the two other columns if there be not 
these two. And we make its two ends go round in them 





ORGAN. (Reconstructed.) 

Showing the way in which the teeth of the cylinder or recording 
barrel opened the holes of the horizontal organ-pipe by means 

of pallets. 

in the two holes R J [ ? Z H]. And we prescribe upon 
the surface (zahr) of this cylinder (barbakh) eight discs 
(da'ira), upon an axis R [ ? T] Y and R [ ? Z] H, opposite 
to the eight levers, by the ends of which we open and 
close the holes which are in the 'organ-pipe' (surnay) as 
we have mentioned. And we set up upon every one of 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

these discs which are upon the surface of this cylinder, 
small teeth (shaziyya), their rims (harf) being true arcs 
of a circle. And we put a number of these teeth in one 
disc which goes round opposite a hole [of the surndy] ac- 
cording to the number of what is desired for which that 
note is employed which goes out from that hole in that 
melody in one turn (daura) of it [the disc]. And we make 
the length of this arc (qaus), I mean the teeth (shaziyya) 
mounted upon the disc (dd'ira) which is opposite that 
hole, like the space in which that note is employed in 
that from that melodic scheme (daur)? 

So when we set up these teeth upon each of these discs 
which are upon the cylinder, as we have described, then 
the cylinder turns, as we shall describe, [so] that the teeth 
meet the ends of the nails (mismdr) upon which are 
D B H, in the first place. Then, when the one end of it is 
touched, the hole upon which the other end falls does not 
cease being opened, and the note goes out from the 'or- 
gan-pipe (sumdy), until the tooth (shaziyya) passes the 
end of the lever. Then, that hole closes and another 
tooth begins to touch the end of another lever, which 
makes the note which follows it [the previous note] in 
that melody, go out, whether it. be higher or lower than 
it, and it continues according to the space which that note 
needs in the melody. And so the one note does not cease 
going out from the opened hole, and the remaining seven 
are silent because their 'pallets' (bdb) are closed. And 
that is because the surface of the cylinder does not touch 
the ends of the levers, for it is only the arcs (I mean the 
teeth mounted upon the discs which are upon the surface 
of the cylinder) that touch them, until the space of that 

9 Any complete melodic or rhythmic sequence is a daur. 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

note comes to an end, and that which follows it begins, 
according to the composition of the melody, until the 
melody is finished with every note and rhythm. And that 
is [accomplished] in one-third or in half a turn with which 
the cylinder goes round, if the melody be short. Or, if the 
melody be long, with one complete turn. ' Then the melody 
returns to the beginning. 

"Then as for the means of turning the cylinder upon 
which is H W, it is as we shall describe. We make a great 
water-wheel of which the diameter is 67.5 cm. (= 2 A shibr), 
upon which is T Y, going round upon a pillar K L, in two 
holes T L [ ? Y] from the two columns D T and H D [ ? Y]. 
And we make upon the head [?end] W of the cylinder 
H W, a wheel furnished with cogs (danddnja). There 
meets them a small wheel furnished with cogs also, firmly 
fixed in the pillar K L. Upon it is M. It goes round 
with the turning of the great water-wheel upon which is 
T Y, through the tap N, on account of which the water 
flows from the cistern S H T L [ ? D], and is poured upon 
the water-wheel T Y, until the water [makes it] go round 
by pushing it and by its weight upon it. Then if this 
wheel goes round, then it is clear that the cylinder (bar- 
bakh) goes round also, and the eight holes which are in 
the 'organ-pipe' (sumdy) are opened and closed by the 
'pallets' which are upon them, and they produce that 
melody for which the cylinder H W was made. And it 
repeats it [the melody] until the water is cut off from the 
water-wheel T Y. 

"Then when you wish that the scheme (daur) of the 
melody should be quick sometimes and slow at other 
times, we make a small cup upon which is S X. And we 
join, therefore, a lever (mastara) fixed to it. Upon 
it is X F S. It works upon the axis B, and at the end 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

S is a weight. When it [the weight] descends, the cup 
S X ascends until the lever reaches the horizontal, when 
the cup is empty. Then when we open the tap upon which 
is W, the water flows from the cistern [ ? S] T H D, de- 
scends through it into the cup S X, until if is nearly full, 
when it descends from its position, and the [other] end of 
the lever upon which is S, ascends along with the weight 
suspended from it. Then it opens the valve W. [?Q] in 
the bottom of the cistern [?S] T H D. Then the water 
pours from it upon the great water-wheel T Y. Then its 
[the cylinder] turning becomes swift through that, because 
the water pours upon it from two places, from the tap N, 
and from the valve W. And for that reason the melody 
becomes a quick scheme (daur) and continues so until the 
cup S X is empty through the water pouring out of it 
through the hole S which is in the bottom of it. Then 
after that, the weight which is suspended at the end S of 
the lever descends and the valve W shuts, so that no water 
flows from it upon the great water wheel T Y. And upon 
that it slackens the speed of its turning, and the melody 
returns to its first state, and by reason of that the melody 
is slow, and it continues so until the cup S X is filled, and 
descends and opens the valve W, when the quick scheme 
(daur) returns as we have described. 

" Then, if we wish to change this organ (zamr) so as to 
play a melody other than that which it already plays, then 
that may be done by enlarging the cylinder (barbakh) 
H W, until half a revolution of the cylinder gives the 
melody twice or thrice, and in the other half of the revolu- 
tion, another melody is given twice, thrice, or more. Then 
the rule in the second revolution of the cylinder will be 
like the first, I mean that the first melody will repeat, and 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

the other melody will follow it, and so on ad infinitum. 
And in proportion as we enlarge the cylinder (barbakh) 
H W, it becomes more possible to us that we should make 
in it more than two melodies, so that one of them follows 
the other, then repeats, and so on. 

" And if we wish that we should have this [instrument] 
in the form of a man who plays, then we will make all of 
the instrument concealed inside the body of an image, or 
in another place. And the reed-pipe (surnay) will be 
shown, inserted in the mouth of the image. And we make 
those levers (mas tar a) upon the ends of which are the 
'pallets' (and they are those which shut and open the 
eight holes of the reed-pipe) the fingers of the image. And 
we join the ends of the levers D to the inside of the two 
forearms of the image, until the teeth which are set upon 
the cylinder H W end in the inside of the image, so that 
nothing may appear of any part of the instrument except 
the reed-pipe (surnay), and the fingers of the image which 
are formed by the fingers [ ? levers]. Then we free the 
water in the instrument, and make the ' wind-chest ' in the 
mouth of the image, and it (the wind) issues through the 
' sound-box ' (habba) and produces the sound in the reed- 
pipe (surnay), then the fingers move on the reed-pipe as 
we have described. Then the image plays those melodies 
which we have composed, just as the wind-instrumentalist 
plays them, and quickens the rhythm (iqa!) of the melody 
and makes it slow as above, and changes from melody to 
melody as described. And that is what we wish to 

"And sometimes it is permissible that we should make 
the instrument changing from one melody to another, not 
as we have already described, but by another method. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

And that is, that we fashion in the cylinder which pro- 
duces (qata'a) the melodies, an extension of length 
beyond the eight holes which are in the reed-pipe (surnay), 
so that when the cylinder turns, the melody may be com- 
plete, and shifts from its position towards the direction of 
its beam (sahm) upon which is the axis B [ ? W] H, by the 
measure of 27 cm. (=1 skibr) until it agrees with what we 
have mounted upon the cylinder for another melody. 
Then there begins the other melody. Then it returns to 
the first melody. And when we desire, according to this 
model, that we should change to three or four melodies, 
and the system proceed, we do so. 

" And as for the contrivance in the shifting of the 
cylinder upon the direction of its beam and its axis, 
it is quite easy in a number of ways. And one way is that 
we make the two columns (ustuwan) in which are the two 
holes in which the axis of the cylinder goes round, 
mounted on two pulleys (bakra) like wheels ('ajala). 
And it is worked by a floating vessel (dabba) 10 which 
continually ascends and descends, or by a cup (haud) 
which is filled and emptied, and ascends when empty and 
descends when full. And it works by itself [i.e., auto- 
matically] like the zurnuq 11 which is free of itself. And 
from different kinds of contrivances made at one time and 
another we can change this [arrangement]. 

•W Carra de Vaux, Philon de Byzance, 231. 'Notice sur deux 
mamtscrits Arabes > 3X6. Cf. the definition of Professor Collan- 
gettes in the Mashriq, ix, 454. 

11 The zurnuqdn are the two pillars at the mouth of a well which 
support the axis of the drum, or the cross-piece (na'ama) to which 
the pulley is attached. It is an Aramaic word, says Baron Carra 
de Vaux, which in the generic sense means a tube, and is the 
Greek avpiyg = "a flute." See Carra de Vaux, Philon de 
Bj/zance, 232. 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

" And sometimes it is also equipped so that there hap- 
pens in their change from one melody to another, the 
choice of these directions which we have mentioned, in 
that we increase the flow of the water or diminish it, so 
that he who is present does not see or perceive anything of 
the instrument [doing this], and it seems to the people 
that the image has commanded that it should change the 
melody, and that it obeys him, or else that he commands 
it to play a well-known melody and it plays it. And by 
such an arrangement we make the instrument for the turn- 
ing on of the water, and also with skins (ziqq) 12 filled 
with wind and emptied, or with what takes the place of 
skins in making the wind go out/ 3 as it is wanted evenly. 

"And so that the playing be continuous, it is proper 
also that we should work the organ (alat al-zamr) by 
means of a donkey or mule that goes round, just as 
happens in the mills which grind. But that which re- 
volves by means of water, as in the 'araba, u or else what 
takes the place of the 'araba in ships, or elsewhere, is better 
for making a continuous playing [of the 'organ'] evenly, 
than that which is contrived by means of animals or by 
the wind, in any of the devices. 

" And according to this same method, it is sometimes 
proper that we should make an image which plays (lit. 
beats) on the lute Cud), or on an instrument of strings 
like psalteries (plur. ma'azif). Then each of the two 
images conforms to the other, for the ' organ ' (zamr) con- 
forms to the string [instrument], and the string [instru- 
ment] conforms to the 'organ.' And it is also possible 

J 2I.e., bellows. "I.e., pumps. 

^Wiedemann defines the 'araba as " Scliiffmuhle. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

that we should make figures of images which dance and 
follow this 'organ* and these strings. And the contriv- 
ance in all this is like the contrivance of the ' organ,' so 
that every note of the strings corresponds with every note 
of the ' organ ' to the end of the piece of music (nauba). 

" And we do not trouble ourselves in this discourse with 
the construction of the lute and stringed instruments, 
which we construct according to the melody we want. And 
if there be in what we have explained a sufficiency to him 
who has studied geometry (handasa) and mechanics 
(hiyal), without its being clear in regard to what follows 
by a clear proof, we take this and make for it a figure as 
we have done in the organ. 

"And as for the contrivance by which the image suc- 
ceeds in playing any melody we wish, we make that 
in two ways. One of them is that we count the beats of 
the strings in proportion to the duration of the note. Then 
if the organ be made upon a definite sound (saut) and 
beating (darb), we preserve what is in that sound of the 
beating of the strings in each note successively which is 
upon it. Next, according to the duration of every note 
we mount upon the cylinder (barbakh) opposite that hole 
in the ' organ-pipe ' (surndy), a tooth (shaziyya), of which 
the size of the whole of the scheme (daur) of the melody 
is in proportion to the number of the beatings of that note 
from the whole of the beats of the scheme (daur) of the 
melody. Then if it happens that its particular scheme 
of the melody is in proportion to the [one] revolu- 
tion of the cylinder exactly, then it is all right. If not, 
then it is permissible that we should make its scheme 
(daur) more than the melody when we do not use the 
whole of the revolution of the cylinder, but only a half 
of its revolution, or a third, or a quarter, or any part. 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

" And as for the other way, we take a large wheel 
(dd'ira) of wood or brass, and let its diameter be 108 cm. 
(=2 dhird') and three (fingers ? = 6.75 cm.) more than 
that. And we put it on the ring (halqa) of the large 
' drums ' (bakra) with which the oxen draw water in the 
large buckets and receptacles according to custom, only 
that we make the diameter much greater than that. And 
we smear upon the place which takes the place of the spot 
where the rope goes round in those drums, black wax like 
that which the Byzantines (Rum) make, and which they 
smear upon the slates in the elementary schools, in order 
that everything that is marked in it may be impressed 
upon it with a trace which will remain upon it. 

" Next, this large drum (bakra) is contrived so that 
the water makes it turn with an even, regular turning, not 
very swift nor very slow, and that the turning of the drum 
will be uniform. Then there is mounted above the drum 
without touching it, an ' organ-pipe ' (surndy). And there 
is mounted above every hole of the 'organ-pipe,' to the 
extent of 9 cm. (=4 isba'), a y lever proportionate in length. 
And we make the eight levers which are opposite the eight 
holes which are in the 'organ-pipe,' go up and down (lit. 
'go round') upon the pins (mihwar) in the direction of 
one straight line. And their ends, from one side, will 
fall upon the surface of the drum (bakra) on which is 
the black wax, from that direction, and their other ends, 
opposite the holes of the 'organ-pipe,' we suspend with 
strings, tying every string to that finger of the player 
(zdmir) which is over that hole opposite the lever, in order 
that when the player raises one of his fingers from any 
hole of the reed-pipe (surndy) the lever which ties that 
finger falls upon the drum (bakra). And the drum con- 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

tinues going round evenly as we have said, and that lever 
impresses the value of that note on the wax on the surface 
of the drum (bakra). 

"Then, if the player plays from the scheme (daur) of 
that melody (lahn), we look at the impressions of each 
lever upon the wax on the surface' of the drum (bakra), 
and we know by that the duration (mudda) of each note 
in succession until we can appreciate how each conforms 
to its original. Next, we make the cylinder, which 
was made in order to produce [lit. 'cut'] the notes, 
note for note, as we have described, in accordance with 
the impressions on the wax. And that is what we wish to 

" And there is incumbent upon us in regard to the organ 
that we should explain the state of the notes which are 
in the flute (nay) and in the lute ( l ud), and which note 
of the flute corresponds with the note of the lute in the 
consonance (ittafaq), that is, in equality (musawat). And 
they correspond in the octave (di'f) and in the remain- 
ing ones in the consonances. So we begin and say,— 
Verily, in every flute (nay) and reed-pipe (surnay) also, 
are nine notes whose outlet is from nine holes which are 
in it. And the custom has been that eight of these holes 
should be closed by the fingers and opened by the fingers. 
And the ninth hole is always left open, and it is that 
which is at the end of the flute or reed-pipe. And the 
note from this ninth hole sounds only [lit. ' appears '] when- 
ever the eight holes which are higher than it, are closed. 
And similarly, every other hole [sounds only] when it is 
opened, and when the holes higher than it towards the 
mouthpiece are shut. Then the note goes out from it [the 

first open hole] and belongs to it. 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

"And if the whole of the holes which are after it are 
open, then the note of the i st hole, and it is that which 
is next to the mouthpiece [Here, says the editor, a line 
has been missed out in the text, and it should run, — ' And 
the 1st hole is equal to the sound which goes from under 
the 4th finger [g] 15 on- the Zlr string [c\, 16 and [double 
of]" the open string of the Mathna string [G] ]. And the 
2nd [hole] is equal to the 4th finger [f] of the Zlr string, 
and double of the 2nd finger [F] of the Mathlath string 
[D]. And the 3rd hole of the flute is equal to the 3rd 
finger [e] of the Zlr string, and double of the 1st finger 
[E] of the Mathlath string. And the 4th hole is equal 
to the 1st finger [d] of the Zlr string and double of the 
open Mathlath string [D]. And the fifth hole is equal to 
the [open note of the] Zlr string [c], and double the 
2nd finger [C] of the Bamm string [A]. And the 6th 
hole is equal to the 3rd finger [b] of the Mathna string 
[G] and double the 1st finger [B] of the Bamm string 
[A], and I have found it softened (bi'l-mihna) as the 2nd 
finger [F [ ? B flat] ] of the Mathlath [ ? Mathna] string. 
And the 7th hole is equal to the 1st finger [a] of the 
Mathna string, and double the open Bamm string [A]. 
And the 8th [hole] is equal to the open Mathna string 
^G], and it is also half the note of the 1st hole [g]. And 
the gth hole is like the 2nd finger [F] of the Mathlath 

15 Under the fourth finger means the fret lower down (towards 
the bridge) on the fingerboard. 

16 The Arabs refer in all their musical theory to their lute, just 
as the Greeks used the kithara. The four strings of the lute 
-n-ere, A (Bamm), D (Mathlath), G (Mathna), and C (Zlr). 

17 Double = octave. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

string, and half the note of the 2nd hole, which note is 
like the 4th finger of the Zlr string, just as we have 
explained. 1S 

" And it is proper that we should examine in the organ, 
the valves (bab) and fingers, to see that they close pro- 
perly for the production of the notes. And we should in- 
spect the inside of the ' organ-pipe ' (surnay) so that there 
may not be in it any dust, or anything that would spoil 
the tone. And the organ-pipe should be softened with oil, 
and there should be put upon the valves which take the 
place of the fingers, Chinese fat, or thick fat, so that they 
may close [properly] in the production of the notes, and 
not leak. And we should inspect the fixing-place of the 
' sound-box ' (habba) upon the mouth of the ' organ-pipe ' 
(surnay), in order that there may not be a leakage from 
its sides. And we should inspect the ' plug ' (simam) in 

IS Here is the fretting and accordatura of the lute. 














*— * 



















The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

which there is a tap (blthan) and [see to] its precise fit- 
ting (hinddm). And if it be mounted, its tap should work 
easily that it be not locked. And we inspect the tap 
which shares the two pipes of the air so that each one is 
opened in its time. And we inspect the two water-wheels, 
and the turning of the drum (tabl). And we inspect the 
two valves from which the water enters into the house 
[= division], so that each one is opened in its time, and 
when it is opened the water is poured from it into the 
little cup (hand), which is in the great house. And this 
little cup is that which opens the lower valve. And it is 
necessary that we should be on the look-out lest one of 
the two houses [= divisions] be filled with water, for when 
it is filled, the little cup will not empty, and the lower 
valve [at the bottom of the division] will not open. And 
if one of the two houses [ = divisions] be filled with water, 
it is necessary that the lowest valve should be opened with 
the hand, so that the proper amount may be emptied from 
it until the little cup is emptied, and the door is opened. 
And we must examine the two lowest valves, for each one 
of them must be opened if the house be empty. Then 
when the water pours into one of these houses [= divi- 
sions], it begins to pour into the small cup, and when the 
small cup is full and heavy, the valve which is at the bot- 
tom of the house is closed. And we must examine the 
places which are stopped up with wax in the air pipes, and 
what is between the air -pipe and the ' organ-pipe ' [that is 
the kurra and wind-chest]. Next, we inspect also, the two 
houses [= divisions] in order that each one of them may 
be air-tight, and that air may not be diverted from it and 
go out by the valve by which the water enters. And we 
examine the 'sound-box' (habba) and its sound, before 
it is mounted, so that it is pure of tone, and that there 

113 9 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

is not in it a hair or particle of dust, which would spoil 
it, so that they are entirely subservient (maftuh) to the 
two houses [= divisions]. And we must inspect the air- 
pipe [which enters] the house [= division] into which the 
water pours, so that it may be open when the water is 
being poured into its house [= division]. And we exam- 
ine the revolution of the water-wheel (dulab) which turns 
the wheel (da'ira) in order that it may open the two valves, 
so that it may not be too swift nor too slow. For if it 
were slow, it would result that one of the two houses 
[= divisions] would be filled with water, and the valve of 
the other house would not have been opened, nor would 
there have entered into it the water. So the air would be 
cut off by that from the 'organ' (mizmar), and the house 
also will have been filled with water, and its lower valve 
will not open unless one opens it with his hand and empty 
it, because the little cup which opens the lower valve will 
not open if the house be filled with water. 

"The [description of the] instrument is finished with 
the power and strength of Allah." 

This automatic hydraulic organ of the Banu Musa is a 
most interesting instrument, for whilst the principle of 
the wind supply is little different from that of the auto- 
matic wind-instrumentalist of Apollonios, as found in 
Arabic documents, yet it is an improvement, and the re- 
maining part of the apparatus is certainly quite novel. 

The Reverend Professor Maurice Collangettes suggests' 9 
that the instrument delineated by Kircher in his " Musur- 
gia Universalis" (1650) 20 "resembled in every way the in- 

MMasKriq, ix, 457. 

lOIconismus, xxii. See, however, the instrument on p. 
(Machinamentum, ii). 



The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

strument which the Banu Musa describe." This is not 
quite correct. 2 The principle of the wind supply was dif- 
ferent. In the Banu Musa instrument, as in the Apollonios 
instrument, the wind supply was obtained by means of 
compensating water cisterns called divisions in the text. 
Each of these cisterns alternately, was filled with air 
through a valve at the bottom. When the water flowed 
upon a movable cup in a cistern, the cup descended and 
closed the valve. The water pouring into the cup, over- 
flowed, and accumulated in the cistern, thus driving the 
air out of the cistern into the compartment called the 
kurra, which fed the wind-chest and so the " organ-pipe." 
The kurra in the Banu Musa instrument served the part 
purpose of the pnigeus of Heron and the infundibulum 
inversum of Vitruvius; that is to say, the air was com- 
pressed in these contrivances, although the function of the 
water in the two instruments was different. In the Banu 
Musa instrument we have a hydraulic air compressor, 
whilst in the Heron-Vitruvius instrument we have a 
hydraulic pressure stabiliser. Passing from the kurra 
through the 'unq (= cervicula of Vitruvius), the wind 
reached the rukba or wind-chest, which was the solen 
plagion of Heron and the arcula of Vitruvius. 

That part of the apparatus which " cut " the melody, as 
the Banu Musa say, is also clearly described. Here we 
have a cylinder furnished with teeth (shaziyya) arranged 
according to the needs of the melody, as in the modern 
barrel-organ. These teeth touched the ends of levers 
(mastara) that moved "pallets" which opened or closed 
the holes of the " organ-pipe " (surnay). 

Clearly, this organ did not possess a number of pipes 

1 See Appendix III for Kircher's instrument. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

as in the case of the ordinary organ. Only one pipe was 
used, and this was pierced with a number of holes, in pre- 
cisely the same way as a flute or reed-pipe. These holes 
were covered with keys called " pallets" which were opened 
and closed by the action of levers (see Fig. 9). 

As for the class of organ-pipe, we are left in some 
dubiety as to whether it was a flue-pipe or a reed-pipe. 
On account of the use of the word surnay, one might con- 
clude that it was a reed-pipe. On the other hand, that 
part of the instrument which has been named the " sound- 
box " is termed the habbat al-musawwita (" the sounding 
habba"), and because of this, a flue-pipe suggests itself. 
A habba is " a grain," and in one of the designs of the 
Apollonios instrument, the " sound-box " or mauda' habba 
is delineated with a number of grains in the box, which 
would operate in the same way as the grain does in our 
modern whistles. At the same time, the term habba has 
a wider meaning, and stands for "the core of a thing," 
hence "that which is needful or requisite," which would 
simply mean that the " sound-box " was so named because 
it was "the principal part of the instrument." 

Curiously enough, another term for the same part of 
the instrument is sha'lra, and this also means "a grain." 
This word is used by Al-Farabi (d. c. 950) for the head 
of the suryanai ( ? surnay), which is the place of blowing. 8 
Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khwarizmi (fl. 976-97) says 
that the sha'lra of the mismar " is its head, and it is that 
by which it is made narrow and wide [in compass]."' 

Happily, the scale of the Banu Musa " organ " has been 
preserved for us. Here it is : 

2 Land, Becherches, 164. 

« Mafatih al-'ulum, 237. 


The Organ (Hydraulic) from Arabic Sources. 

Notes. F. G. a. (bp). b. c. d. e. f. g. 
Cents. O. 204. 408. (498). 612. 702. 906. 1 1 10. 1200. 1404. 

In the treatise entitled the Mafatih al-ulum, by Al- 
Khwarizml, a writer mentioned above, certain " instruments 
of motioji" (alat al-harakat) called hannanat) (sing. 
hannana) are included. They are described as instru- 
ments that make a plaintive sound like the sound of psal- 
teries or barbitons (mi'zafa, mi'zaf), and reed-pipes (miz- 
mdr), and flutes-a-bec (saf/araJJ Does this refer to auto- 
matic instruments of the Banu Musa type? Ordinarily, 
the hannana was a hydraulic wheel, and it was probably 
given this name by reason of the sound that it made 
(,/ hann = " the twang of a bow "). The music of water- 
wheels captured the fancy of the Arabs, and we often read 
of them sitting enjoying their music. 5 Even Burton, on 
his pilgrimage to Mecca and Al-Medlna, was so captivated 
by the delightful music that the whistling water-wheel 
made at Quba' that he left off praying. 6 It is not im- 
probable, therefore, that the description of Al-Khwarizmi 
is merely fanciful. On the other hand, the hannanat de- 
scribed in the Arabic version of Philon's Pneumatics were 
constructed so as to produce a whistling sound. 7 

We have already mentioned a certain Abu Zakariyya 
Yahya al-BayasI (late twelfth cent.), who constructed an 
organ (urghan) "and sought by artful contrivance the 
playing of it." s This may have been a similar sort of 
instrument to that described by the Banu Musa. We know 

l Ibid., 254. « Al-Maqqari, i, 68. 

6 Burton, Persortal Nai-rative . . . , ii, 217. 
7 Carra de Vaux, Philon de Byzance, Nos. 61, 62. 
s See ante p. 75. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

from the writings of Badi' al-Zaman al-Asturlabl (d. 1 139- 
1140), and Badi' al-Zaman al-Jazarl (fl. 1205)/ who were 
in the service of the Saljuq sultans and Urtuqid rulers 
respectively, that mechanical instruments of this type were 
still in favour. 

9 JDer Islam, viii, 65, 57. 




(The Hydraulis.) 

' ' The revival of interest in the hydraulis in Europe appears 
to have been due to the Arabs. From the sixth to the ninth cen- 
tury there is no mention of the ancient hydraulis in Europe, but 
in the ninth-twelfth century the Arabs were actually construct- 
ing both the pneumatic and the hydraulic organ." — Farmer, The 
Arabian Influence on Musical Theory. 1 

THE. hydraulis proper, that is to say, the apparatus 
that gave us an hydraulic pressure stabiliser, such 
as we find in Heron and Vitruvius, was also known to 
the Arabs from an early period. The earliest reference in 
Arabic to an instrument of this type is to be found in a 
work entitled the Kitab al-siyasa, attributed to Aristotle, 
where a large hydraulis is mentioned as being used in 
times of war. 8 

1 1 quote this passage from my brochure because my conclusion} 
have been challenged by Miss Kathleen Schlesinger in a " reply " 
entitled Is European Musical Theory Indebted to the Arabs? My 
critic says : " Mr. Farmer will find a record of a fine hydraulic 
organ constructed in the palace of Louis le Debonnaire." This 
organ/urn hydraulicum was constructed in 826 or 828, and it was 
on that account that I introduced the words "ninth century." 
When I said "from the sixth to the ninth century" I meant 
" from the close of the sixth century to the opening of the ninth 

2 British Museum MSS., Or. 3118 and Or. 6121. John Rylands' 
Library, Arab., 455. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

This warlike hydraulis is said to have been used by 
Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), but the story probably 
belongs to the mythopoeic period of the third century A.D., 
when most of the other legendary Alexander material 
arose. The immediate authority for the statement, how- 
ever, is the Arabic treatise entitled the Kitab al-siyasa 
(" Book on Government "), which claims to be a translation 
from the Greek, via the Syriac, made by Yuhanna ibn al- 
Batriq (d. 81 5). 3 The translator's preface informs us 
that this book was composed by Aristotle for his pupil, 
Alexander the Great ! No Greek original is known, and 
no Syriac version has yet come to light. Mr. Robert Steele, 
the editor of Roger Bacon's Secretum Secretorum, which 
was derived from the Arabic Kitab al-siyasa, opines that 
the work, as it stands, can scarcely be of Greek origin, 
although Greek treatises have found a place therein. " The 
texture itself of the original work," says Mr. Steele, "is 
oriental, not western. I believe it to have had its origin 
in the interaction between Persian and Syriac ideas which 
took place in the seventh to ninth centuries of our era."' 1 
The Kitab al-siyasa is not mentioned in the Fihrist 
(written 988), nor by Ibn al-Qiftl (d. 1248), although it is 
mentioned by Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) 5 and Hajji Khalifa 
(d. 1658). 6 Yet we have evidence of its existence in the 

SMSS. are to be found in many European libraries— British 
Museum, the Bodleian, John Rylands (Manchester), Paris, Vienna, 
Gotha, Leyden and Berlin. It has been translated into English 
by A. S. Fulton, who collated six MSS. for the purpose. It may 
be found in Steele's edition of Roger Bacon's Secretum Secretorum. 
(Oxford, 1920). 

■SOp. cit., x. 5 Ibn Khaldun, i, 210. 

eHajjI Khalifa, No. 10202. See also No. 7102, which is evidently 
another recension of the same work. 


The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis). 

twelfth century, since it was translated into Latin from 
the Arabic by Johannes Hispalensis (c. 1135)/ whilst a 
Hebrew version was made shortly afterwards by Judah 
al-Harizi (fl. 1 190-1218).* Another Latin translation from 
the Arabic was done by Philip of Tripoli (c. 1243), a ver- 
sion /vhich is reflected in the Secretum Secretorum of 
Roger Bacon (d. c. 1294). 

The Arabic texts disclose two distinct recensions, now 
distinguished as the Eastern and Western texts. That 
portion of the Arabic Kitab al-siyasa which deals with the 
hydraulis is of sufficient interest to be quoted here. 5 

" And it is necessary that there should be with thee the 
instrument which Yayastayus J0 invented for warning 
(people)." And it is a pneumatic instrument 12 used for 
various purposes, because it enables you to warn all your 
country, and prepare the troops the same day for advanc- 
ing or retiring, or any other purpose necessary in a mighty 
army. And its sound will be heard sixty miles." 

Another passage reads : 1S 

7 Steinschneider, Jildische Uebersetzer des Mittelalters, 981. 
The, text is given in H. Suchier's Denkmdler provenzalischer Lit- 
eratur und Sprache (1883), 472 et seq. 

8 Text and translation in the Journal, Royal Asiatic Society, 

9 1 have edited the text in my Studies in Oriental Musical In- 
struments, p. 28. The text is based on two British Museum MSS. 
Or. 3118 (called " C "), and Or. 6421 (called " D "), as well as 
on the John Rylands Library MS., Arab., 455. 

10 Called Thasltus and Thastlyus in MS. "~D," and Temistius in 
the Latin versions. See ante p. 19. 

11 Roger Bacon has ad nocendum, which Steele suggests is a mis- 
take for advocandum, as in the Holkham Hall MS. 

«MS. "C" has mafza'a ("terrifying"), which agrees with 
the word in Roger Bacon's version. MS. "D" has mufarrigha 
(" pneumatic "). 

« Steele, p. 248. Mr. Fulton's translation. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

"And let there be plenty of frightening and terrific 
sound-producing instruments, for verily they will inspire 
thy men with courage and those of thy enemy with fear." 2i 

The Hebrew version closely resembles the Western Ara- 
bic text, and it was obviously made from it, as was the 
Latin version of Johannes Hispalensis. Philip of Tripoli 
used the Eastern text. In the Hebrew version we are 
specifically informed that they were "hydraulic instru- 
ments." The Hebrew text says : 

"Provide [thyself with] . . . terrifying instruments 
which make horrible noises, for thereby thou wilt encour- 
age thy army and strengthen their souls, and thou wilt 
frighten those with whom thou wagest war, and dread 

will enter their souls And thou shalt dispose 

thy army On the left . . . those hydraulic instru- 
ments which cause dread and trembling, which I have 
made for thee when thou didst engage with B.l.h.h the 
Indian. When they heard those frightful noises their 
hearts quaked, the horses ran away, and thy victory was 
due to the large number of these instruments which I have 

Curiously enough, however, it is the Latin version of 
Roger Bacon, which appears to give a reading more like 
what, it may be presumed, the original Arabic was. It is 
as follows : 15 

U The Western Arabic text reads: "Instruments which cause 
dread and trembling, which I made for thee when thou didst 
engage in battle against Nahala the Indian. When they heard 
those frightful noises their hearts quaked, the horses ran away, 
and thy victory was due to this." The Western version may be 
seen in Land Or. 210, Bodleian Library. 

25 Steele, op. cit., 151. Quoted verbatim. 


The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis). 

"Et oportet te tecum 
habere illud instrumentum 
quod fecit Temistius ad 
opus excercitus ad nocen- 
dum, et est instrumentum 
terribile quod dividitur 
multis modis, quia forte 
oportebit te vocare totam 
provinciam tuam et regnum 
tuum, et congregare subito 
proceres tuos bellatorestuos 
in eadem die vel cicius, vel 
aliquo modo prout indiget 
excercitus magnus et nu- 
merosus, nam hujus instru- 
ment! sonus auditur per 
miliaria * sexaginta. Hoc 
est cornu eneum artificio 
mirabili fabricatum, quo ex. 
lx. miliariis tempore belli 
suum excercitum convoca- 
bat, et regebatur cornu sex- 
aginta hominibus propter 
sui magnitudinem et ines- 
timabilem artificium, et ver- 
isimile est quod multa 
metallorum resonancium 
genera in ejus composicione 
concurrebant, et hec est 
forma cornu." 

"And it is necessary for 
you to have that instru- 
ment which Temistius 
made for the need of the 
army in order to affright. 
And it is a terrifying in- 
strument used for various 
purposes. Because it will 
enable you to summon the 
whole district, and even 
your kingdom, and as- 
semble the military offi- 
cers the same day or more 
speedily, or in any way 
that is required in a large 
and numerous army, for 
the sound of this instru- 
ment carries sixty miles. 
This is a bronze horn of 
wonderful artifice. In time 
of war it convokes an 
army for sixty miles, and 
the horn is manipulated 
by sixty men on account 
of its bulk and enormous 
structure. And doubtless, 
many kinds of resonant 
metals are incorporated in 
its construction, and this 
is the form of this horn." 

The form is not given in the Bacon MSS. Mr. Steele 
says that "no Latin MS. is known in which there is a 
figure of the horn, with the exception of that in Holkham 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

Hall, in the borders of which an entirely fanciful instru- 
ment is depicted." 16 Professor Lynn Thorndike points 
out, however, that a figure may be found in a Munich MS. 
(2574b, fol. 69V). 17 Achillini, in his 1501 and 1516 edi- 
tions of the Secretum Secretorum, gives a woodcut of the 
instrument, which is, however, purely imaginary. This 
design was clumsily reproduced by Kircher in his Ars 
magna (1646),^ and also in his Phonurgia nova (1674). 2 * 
Kircher records the diameter of the horn as five cubits, 
and the distance at which it could be heard as one hun- 
dred stadia, but he does not declare his authority for these 

The Holkham Hall design, which has been reproduced 
in the facsimile of the De secretts secretorum Aristotelis 
issued by the Roxburghe Club, is not so "entirely fanci- 
ful " as Mr. Steele suggests. Clearly, the artist must have 
had some " authority " for his conception of the " Horn of 
Temistius " as an organ. 20 It is almost inconceivable that 
he merely guessed it. Failing a design in a MS. from 
which the text was copied, the artist may have been 
prompted by the reference to "hydraulic instruments," 
such as we read about in the Hebrew version, which may 
have also occurred in some Latin version. 

The question of the name Temistius in the Latin, and 
Yayastayus in the Arabic version, has considerable in- 
terest. Mr. Steele suggests that "the name Temistius or 
Themistius .... seems to be taken from The Book of 

16 Op. cit., Iviii. 

if Thorndyke, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, 
ii, 265. 

« Page 140. 10 Page 132. 

10 The Treatise of Walter de Milemete . . . . et Dc secretts 
secretorum Aristotelis. Edited by M. B. James. Printed by the 
Roxburghe Club, 1913, pi. 151. 


The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis). 

Astamatis described by Al-Makln." 1 I believe that a more 
likely solution may be found elsewhere, as has already 
been hinted. 2 

British Museum MS., Or. 3118. 

From the descriptions in the Kitab al-siyasa and the 
Secretum Secretorum alone it would not have been possi- 
ble to have identified the instrument they mention as the 

1 Steele, op. cit., lvm. See Budge, Alexander, ii, 384, for re- 
ference to this work. Al-Makin (d. 1273) was the son of an un- 
frocked Christian monk. 

2 See ante, p. 19. 



British Museum MS., Or. 6421. 


John Rylands Library MS., Arab., 455. 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

hydraulis, had it not been for the designs of the instru- 
ment which appear in the former MS. and the mention of 
its sound being heard "sixty miles." Figs, io, u and 
12 show the three designs in the Arabic manuscripts 

These designs are rather crude, but in Fig. io we have 
the infunibulum inversum of Vitruvius (= Trnyevs of 
Heron and the unbub of Muristus) set within the ar\c\a 
of Vitruvius (= /3w/xi'o-kos of Heron, and the ala of Muris- 
tus). The former lacks the water space at the bottom, 
but otherwise it is a fairly correct design. The cylindri- 
cal bellows shown on either side, called by Muristus the 
ziqq riinii, 1 ' equates with the tiki's of Heron and the modi- 
olus of Vitruvius. Two of the figures also delineate the 
water funnel. 

It is in the Muristus documents, however, that we get a 
full description of the hydraulis. Already it has been 
pointed out that we have copies of the Muristus treatises 
in the British Museum, Constantinople, and Bairut lib- 
raries, the last copy dating from the twelfth century, whilst 
the works themselves can be traced to the tenth century, 
and probably to the ninth century. 5 

In the Bairut copy of the treatise on the hydraidis, the 
actual invention of the hydraulis is credited to Muristus. 
The treatise is entitled, 'Amal al-alat illatl ittakhadhaha 
Miiristus yadhhabu sautuhd sittin mllan (" Construction of 
the Instrument which Muristus Invented, the Sound of 
which Travels Sixty Miles"). The title of the British 
Museum and Constantinople copies runs, Risala li-Muris- 
tus san'at al-urghln al-buqi ("Treatise by Muristus on 

>i See my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, p. 30. 

6 See ante, p. 16 et seq. Gastoue (L'orgue en France, p. 30) 
says "eighth century." 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

the Construction of the Flue-pipe Organ "). This treatise 
describes a type of hydraulis far earlier than those of 
Heron and Vitruvius, and whether this is actually the 
original work of Ktesibios, as suggested, or not, it is a 
most interesting addition to the literature of the hydraulis. 
For that reason a complete translation of the treatise is 
given herewith. 





Muristus says: This instrument was carried with them 
[the Greeks] in their wars because their country had ene- 
mies on all sides. And when they were needing that they 
should warn their fellows or ask for assistance in the 
wars, to send them the cavalry and succour, or warn the 
people of the capital of the kingdom or any territory 
whatever, they sounded upon (lit. blew in) this instru- 
ment. And it is the Great Organ, nicknamed ' The Capa- 
cious Mouth with the Loud Voice.' And that is because 
its sound^ carries sixty miles. 

Then in order to make it, one takes an apparatus (ala) 
of brass according to the distance that one requires the 
carrying-power of the sound to be, greater than we state, 
or less. Then, as for that which I personally made for 
the King of the Inner Franks (Afranjat al-ddkhila) it 
was the distance that I mentioned. And its capacity was 

i The Mashriq text has a wrong word here. "Sound" (saut) 
is the word intended, which is clearly borne out by the other texts. 



i « 


(Al-ala yadhhabu sittln milan.) 
Bairut MS. (Al-Mashriq, ix.) 

The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis). 

1,000 qistj and its height 648 cm. (= 12 dhira'), and the 
circumference of its base 945 cm. (= 35 shibr). 6 And let 
its base be broad, and as it rises to its top, it gets nar- 
rower, until the opening at its head becomes the amount 
of 81 cm. (=3 shibr), like the form of the oven (tannur). 
And it is roofed, that is to say covered. And it is per- 
forated in its upper part, in that place 27 cm. ( = 1 shibr) 
below its head, with three holes. And these holes are in 
a triangle. And between the holes there is an equal dis- 
tance/ a third of the circumference of the apparatus. 

Then take three skins (ziqq), each of a large buffalo 
hide, and tan them well. And the excellence of the tan- 
ning will be that it is soft, thin, compact. Let there be 
inserted into the mouth of each skin, a pipe of brass, the 
same length as the apparatus, in such a way that if the 
end of the pipe which is in the skin 8 be put in the head 
it would' nearly reach to the bottom 9 of the apparatus. 
And these pipes will be made flexible (laina), 10 broad at 
the bottom, and in proportion as they rise they get nar- 
rower, until they get to a size which I shall describe. 

And thus the head of the pipe which is upon the 
head of the apparatus has an opening of 2.25 cm. 

« The British Museum text has musht, but the other tests have 
gist. A gist, according to the Arabic lexicons, is a " bushel," but 
the above dimensions "would seem to show that the Greek £«tt7}s 
(= "pint") is intended. See Carra de Vaux, I 'Invention de 
Vhydraulis, p. 334. 

6 The British Museum MS. has 30 shibr, but both the Mashriq. 
and Constantinople texts have 35 shibr. 

? Meaning an equilateral triangle. 

«The Brit. Mus. MS. has "hole" (thaqb) instead of "skin," 
as in the other texts. 

"The Brit. Mus. MS. has "pipes" instead of "bottom," as in 
the other texts. 

x>The Brit. Mus. MS. and the Constantinople text have " also " 
(aidanj instead of "flexible" (laina). 

129 10 

The Organ of the Ancients. 

(= i 'aqd), and the head of the pipe at the bottom of the 
apparatus has an opening of 27 cm. (= 4 *f**' majtuh)." 
And likewise the size of the holes [in the apparatus] which 
take these pipes. 

And let the broad ends of these three pipes enter the 
holes of the apparatus which are at its head, each pipe 
orojecting the measure of 40.5 cm. (= i\ shibr). Then 
take [each of] 13 the three skins, and let its mouth, and it 
is its head, be tied over every one of these pipes [going 
out] 23 from the head of the apparatus, so that it is fixed se- 
curely so that there is not to it an escape of wind in the 
slightest degree. 

[And the apparatus is marked by A B J D. And the 
lid is that which has A B upon it. And the bottom is 
that which has J D upon it. As the design is a plane 
and not a body, we show, instead of the three holes in a 
triangle, only two holes, R« and H. And of the three 
skins we show only two skins, and they are Y and K. 
And of the three pipes we show only two pipes, and they 
are L H and M W. And the two ends H and W pene- 
trate the apparatus, and the two ends M and L are in the 
head of the skins, 25 and they are K and Y.] 26 

Then we pierce 27 in every skin at its back, two wide 
holes, the width of each being 27 cm. (= 4 isbaf maftuh) 
or 18 cm. (= 4 isba' madmum). And let there be mounted 
upon each hole a pipe, the length of each pipe being 

n The measurements for the two ends of the pipes are reversed 
in the Mashriq. 

n Not in the Mashriq text. » In Mashriq only. 

U The Brit. Mus. MS. has Z in text but R. in design. 

"The Brit. Mus. MS. says "head of the apparatus." 

16 The passage in square brackets does not appear in the Mashriq 


11 The Mashriq text has "make" instead of "pierce." 


The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis). 

40.5 cm. (= iX s Mbr). And the ends of the pipes out- 
side shall be narrow, the size of 2.25 cm. (= 1 'aqd) each, 
and these pipes shall be fixed in their places with a firm 
fixing in order that the wind may not escape from them. 
And let there be taken for each of these pipes, a Greek 
bellows (ziqq Rami) [and it is the cylindrical bellows 
which the goldsmiths blow who make seals]. 2 * And 
mount these [bellows] upon the ends of the small pipes 
which are in the back of the skins. And this is the place 
for the driving of the wind into the skins [and] then into 
the apparatus. Understand that 2 

And the two holes which are in the skin Y are F and 
X, and the two in the skin K are N and S. Then the 
pipes fastened to these holes are marked, §-Q 2 F-X, Z 3 -N 
S-Sh. [And the Greek bellows are marked A B J D.p 
Know that. 

Then take a receptacle (lit. pipe) exactly after the form 
of the particular make of the apparatus (ala). And let 
the width of its lowest part be 40.5 cm. (= \\ shibr), and 
the width of its head 18 cm. (= 4 isba' madmtori). And 
let the length of this receptacle be the amount of a third 
in excess of the height of the apparatus. Then pierce 
the head of the apparatus with a hole and insert in it this 
receptacle, and there will be of its length outside the 
head of the apparatus the amount of 27 cm. (= 1 shibr)? 

is The passage in square brackets does not appear in the Brit 
Mus. MS. 

1 These last two words are omitted in the Brit. Mus. MS. 

s Brit. Mus. MS. has F instead of Q. 

«Brit. Mus. MS. has Z in the text but D in the design. 

>• The passage in square brackets only appears in the Brit. Mus. 

s The Mashriq text has 2 shibr. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

Then let the soldering of that be made firm with lead, 
so that no air will get out at all. And let the bottom of 
this apparatus be solid. 

Then mark the 'hole upon the head of the apparatus T, 
and mark Th-Kh upon the receptacle which resembles the 
apparatus, and it is inserted in this hole. And the 
end Th enters almost to one-third of the apparatus, and 
the end Kh projects out of the hole T to the extent of 
27 cm. (= I shibr). 6 

Then pierce a hole below the head of this apparatus 
[A. B. J. D.] ? at a distance of 54 cm. (= 1 dhira') from 
the head, and mount upon it a strong stopper (bithun), 
upon the head of which is a funnel (qam') for the pour- 
ing in of the water. And in the bottom of the apparatus 
also there is a stopper for the flowing out of the water. 
Then the hole for the pouring in of the water is marked 
Dh, and the funnel D, s and the hole for the pouring out 
of the water at the bottom of the apparatus Z, 9 and the 
stopper Gh. 20 Then let water be poured into the funnel 
D, and it flows out of the hole Dh into the apparatus 
[A B J D] until the water level reaches the face of the 
upright receptacle in it/ 1 that is to say until it reaches the 
opening Th of the receptacle marked Th-Kh, and it is 
from this that the sound [ ? the wind] goes out. Then close 
the stopper Dh-D. JS 

6 This paragraph is not in the Mashriq. 
1 Only in the Constantinople MS. 
s Marked S in the Brit. Mus. design. 
» Marked T in the Brit. Mus. text. 

10 Marked X in both text and design, but it is Gh in the Con- 
stantinople text. 

"The Mashriq text adds "in the middle." 
J" The Mashriq text does not contain any of these notations. 


The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis). 

Then if you wish to make a sound** let there be taken 
pedestals (kursi), and let them be placed around the ap- 
paratus. And let their elevation be to the place of the 
skins, in order that the skins may be placed on the pedes- 
tals. And let there be to them a width to the amount 
of the width of the couches (sam) in order that the men 
[who work the bellows] may stand upon them. And at- 
tach the [Greek]" blast skins [? bellows] to their pipes 
[and they are the skins [? bellows] A B J D].« 
' Then they blow the skins until they are full of wind 
[and they are the skins Y and K].» Then the wind en- 
ters [the receptacle] as far as the water, and it moves 
(thara) lt , and disturbs (kaja) it [from its level] and 
circulates, and goes round in it [the receptacle], and 'seeks 
the outlet. Then it escapes at the head of the receptacle 
with a loud, terrifying sound. It has strength and ter- 
ror, and affrights {lit. splits) the hearts [of those who 
hear], and is heard the distance that we have mentioned. 
And the men who blow will have their ears stuffed with 
cotton, and covered over with wax, in order that their 
senses may not depart and that they may not be injured 
in the ears. 

And further to this there need not be only one 
sound [but there may be different sounds. I Wl H men- 
tion them one by one, Please Allah]." And that is be- 
cause there may be mounted upon the receptacle from 
which the wind goes out three or four pipes, upon each of 
which -there is a sound-box (sha'irat al-mizmdr). Then 
there will be produced other wonderful sounds 

"The Mashriq text says "hear a sound " 
« Not in the Mashriq text. u Not in the MatM 

J «>lot in the Mashriq text. 
" This passage is not in the Brit. Mus. MS. 


The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis). 


(AUurghln al-bugt.J 
British Museum MS., Or. 9649. 

And likewise, if they intensify the blowing, the wind 
is strengthened, or if they diminish it, it is weakened. 78 
Then according to that, various kinds of sound are pro- 
duced — pleasant, diverting, or otherwise. But the orig- 
inal purpose for which this apparatus was made is the 
carrying of the sound [to a distance]. 19 Then under- 
stand that, if Allah wills." 

The author of this treatise clearly shows us an apparatus 
or cistern (dla) which is identical with the bomiskos of Heron 
'and the ar\c\a of Vitruvius. In spite of the evidence of 
the design in the Bairut manuscript, as given above, 
this cistern was not rectangular nor cylindrical, since its 
circumference is described as being broader at its base 
than at its summit, which is proper since the very word 
bomiskos stands for "a wedge-shaped body." It is de- 
scribed as having the form of an "oven" (tannilr), the 
Arabic word being identical with the Syriac. so The de- 
sign in the British Museum MS. is more in accordance with 
the texts. At the same time, the receptacle (unbub 
= fnigeus) appears to be more properly represented in 
the Bairut design. 2 

So far, the description of the Muristus instrument is 
quite clear. The author does not, however, actually tell 
us that the wind-pipes that conveyed the wind from the 
bellows passed through the apparatus (dla = ar\c\a) or 
cistern into the receptacle (unbub = pnigeus). The 
Bairut diagram rightly shows them passing into the re- 
ceptacle, which agrees with Heron and Vitruvius, but in 
the British Museum and Constantinople MSS. these pipes 

] s This sentence has got mixed in the Brit. Mus. MS., so we 
follow the Mashriq text. 

m Not in the Brit. Mus. MS. *> See ante, p. 52. 
i Cf . Vossius, 100. 



The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Iiydraulis). 

have their ends in the apparatus. It was evidently the 
absence of this instruction from the text that led Baron 
Carra de Vaux to adopt a novel scheme for the hydraulic 
principle, which he committed to a design. This latter 
shows the wind-pipes from the bellows turned down im- 
mediately they enter the apparatus or cistern without en- 
tering the receptacle or pnigeus. The pipes enter the 
water and reach a point lower than the bottom of the re- 
ceptacle or pnigeus, and are then turned upwards towards 
the inside of the receptacle or pnigeus. By this principle 
the wind is supposed to be forced through the water into 
the pnigeus. This design also shows a rectangular ap- 
paratus, which is quite opposed to the text, and its capa- 
city is wrongly given as 9,000 qist instead of i,ooo. 2 

The method of the wind supply in the Muristus instru- 
ment is rather anterior to the hydraulis that we know of 
from other sources. The bellows were the collapsible 
cylindrical bellows known to the Arabs as the ziqq rami 
or ziqq zauqi? There were six of these bellows, two for 
each of the three large skins in which the air was stored 
and compressed as in the modern weighted horizontal 

Unfortunately we are told absolutely nothing of the 
principle of the sound-box (sha'irat al-mizmdr), but as 
this instrument was furnished with flue-pipes, we know 
to some extent what the sound-box was like, although the 
term sha'lra may be rather puzzling.' 5 We do not even 
know the way in which the pipes were made to sound, 
whether by sliders, stoppers, or a key-action. 

2 Carra de Vaux, TJ Invention de Vhydraiilis, p. 334. 
3Cf. my Studies in Oriental Musical Instruments, p. 30. 
J See ante, p. 116. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

The question of the Greeks using the hydraulis in their 
wars, as mentioned in the Kitab al-siyasa and the Muris- 
tus treatise, is referred to by the Ikhwan al-§afa' (tenth 
century). The " Brethren " were an association of philos- 
ophers of ultra-Shl'I views, whose centre was at Al-Basra 
on the Euphrates. In discussing the influence of sound 
on the temperament of man, they say : 

" The great, terrible sounds, out of proportion with one 
another, when they fall on the ears suddenly, corrupt the 
temperament, drive it from moderation, and cause violent 
death. And these [sounds] are found in an artificial in- 
strument called the organ (urghan). And the Greeks 
(Yunaniyun) used to employ it in the wars, in order to 
terrify the souls of the enemy. And they stopped 
their own ears when they used it and played (lit. blew) 
it." 5 

Here we find the general term organ used, but un- 
doubtedly it is the large hydraulis that is described. 
Elsewhere the " Brethren," speaking about musical instru- 
ments in general, refer to organs in the plural," as though 
they included several types of organs. 6 

We read of organs being employed in Western Europe 
in warfare, and perhaps the custom came from the East. 7 
Indeed, it has been suggested that the horn of Roland 
at Roncevalles was a hydraulis, 8 and, strange to say, the 
instrument described in the Kitab al-siyasa was known in 
Latin literature as the Horn of Alexander. 9 

5 Ikhwan al-Safa', i, 92. G Ibid., i, 97. 

'The hydraulis in the Utrecht Psalter belongs to a military- 

s Wiedemann, Byzantinische u. arabische akustische Instru- 
mente, 155. 

s Steele, Roger Bacon's Secretum secretorum. 


The Organ from Arabic Sources (The Hydraulis). 

It is also interesting to note the similarity of expres- 
sions 'twixt East and West regarding organs. In the 
well-known poem of Wulstan (d. 963) on the Winchester 
organ, we are told that " everyone stops with his hand his 
gaping ears, being in no wise able to draw near and bear 
the sound," whilst its nickname, " The Ruler of Thunder," 
reminds us of the Arabic name, " The Capacious Mouth 
with the Striking Voice." 20 In his poem, De Laudibus 
Virginum Aldhelm (d. 709), describes an organ with a 
thousand fifes, 11 which reminds one of the thousand notes 
of the Hebrew magrefha and the thousand voices of the 
Syriac urghanun. 

At what period the hydraidis ceased to interest the 
Arabs we do not know. That the Muristus document at 
Bairut dates from the twelfth century is certainly some 
sort of evidence, but, taken by itself, it may only mean 
that the Arabs were still interested in collecting books on 
music or on the sciences. At the same time, the testimony 
of Ibn Ab! Usaibi'a that there were Arab organ construc- 
tors in the twelfth century, is not to be overlooked, and 
since organs were being constructed, one being presented 
to Khubilai Khan, 22 it is quite certain that such a mechan- 
ical novelty as the hydraulis is almost certain to have 
found favour with the Arabs. 

JOMigne, Patr. Lat., cxxxvii, 110-11. 

1 1 Migne, Pair. Lat., lxxxix, 240. 

11 See ante, p. 76, and Studies in Oriental Musical Instru- 
ments, p. 31. 



" Toute certitude qui n'est pas demonstration mathematique 
n'est qu'une extreme probabilite ; il n'y a pas d'autre certitude 
historique." — Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique. 

HISTORIANS claim that the first organ known in 
Europe was introduced by the Arabs! This is 
stated in the Histoire litteraire de la France in the fol- 
lowing terms : x 

" On sait que les premieres orgues connues en France 
vers la fin du IXe siecle passaient pour present du 
Khalif Harun."* 

The statement made by the authors of the Histoire lit- 
teraire de la France actually follows a description of a 
marvellous "organ" in the palace of the Saracen Amirs 
of Babylon which occurs in a twelfth century chanson de 
geste called Aymeri de Narbonne, written by Bertrand de 
Bar-sur-Aube. This "organ" was simply the "musical 
tree" which has already been referred to. 2 * The learned 
editor of Bertrand's poem, L. Demaison, says that the 

1 Hist. lit. de la France, xxii, 467. 

2 To prevent confusion, I adopt Karun, the modern way of writ- 
ing the name in English, instead of the various forms, Aroun, 
Aaron and Ilaroun, which are used in the works quoted here. 

*» See ante, p. 80. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

author borrowed his notion of this "musical tree" from 
Constantinople, and shows that a Byzantine instrument is 
mentioned in the ninth century.*" It is far more likely, 
however, that Bertrand borrowed his notion of this Sara- 
cen instrument from the Arabs of Spain, who were his 
neighbours, seeing that the Arabs also possessed the in- 
strument in the tenth century. 20 Indeed, this chanson, like 
all the chansons de geste of the so-called Guillaume cycle, 
is based on local colour. 

In Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians we have 
details of an organ said to have been presented by Khalif 
Harun early in the ninth century. 3 

"In 822 or 826 an organ was sent to Charlemagne by 
the Khalif Harun al-Rashid, constructed by an Arabian 
maker of the name of Ja'f ar/ which was placed in a church 
at Aix-la-Chapelle. It was a pneumatic organ of extra- 
ordinarily soft tone." 

When statements such as these are made in what are 
generally considered to be authoritative works, one nat- 
urally concludes that there must be substantial evidence 
for them. No authority is quoted in either of these works, 
and indeed the present writer has been unable to find 
any. Yet, in spite of the absence of authority, the story 
threatens to become established in our histories of music. 
The French account is given recognition in Le grande dic- 

sb Demaison, Aymeri de Narbonne, i, cli. Liutprand, De rebus 
gestis, vi, ii. See also Annates archeolooique, vii, 293-4 : viii 91 : 
xxi, 313-14. , ' 

* c See ante, p. 80. This " musical tree " is also introduced into 
Wolfram von Eschenbach's Titurel (twelfth-thirteenth century). 
See also the Chanson du pelerinage de Charlemagne (Bomania, 
ix, 11). 

> Grove (second edition), iii, 517. The third edition says, 
" Shortly after the year 800." 

iJa'far = Giafar. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

tionnaire of Larousse, and by Henri Quittard in La 
grande encyclofidie. In English works the story has 
passed through three editions of Hopkins and Rimbault's. 
The Organ, its History and Construction, and three edi- 
tions of Grove's Dictionary of Music. It has found an 
echo in the Smith-Cheetham Dictionary of the Bible, in 
Audsley's Art of Organ Building, and even in the Arabic 
journal, Al-Mashriq (ix, 20). In justice to all concerned, 
and to prevent fixity attaching itself to a statement of 
dubious origin, it seems advisable that the authenticity 
of these statements should be tested. 

Search made in published historical documents has not 
revealed the authority. Western chroniclers certainly 
mention embassies, passing between the French and the 
Arabian court at Baghdad, and presents being made. As 
early as the year 762, Pepin sent an envoy to Khalif Al- 
Mansur, He returned three years later, accompanied by 
an envoy from the Baghdad potentate. There were pre- 
sents on both sides, but no organ is mentioned. 5 More im- 
portant were the Charlemagne-Harun missions. 

In 797, Charlemagne dispatched an embassy to Khalif 
Harun, "the Persian king," as he is erroneously desig- 
nated by the chroniclers. It arrived back at the French 
court in 801, attended by the Khalif s envoys, who brought 
"splendid gifts," including an elephant, but no organ is 
mentioned.* In 802 another embassy set out for the 
Khahfs court from Charlemagne. It returned in 807, 
with envoys from the Khalif, among whdm were two 
monks from Jerusalem named Georgius and Felix the 
former being an abbot of a monastery on the Mount of 

5 Contin. de Fredegaire, Hist. Fr., v. 8. 

6 Mon. Germ. Hist., i, 190. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

Olives. The Khalif's envoys were laden with presents 
for Charlemagne, including a magnificent tent, robes of 
silk, perfumes, balms, rare animals, and a wonderful clock 
which struck the hours. 7 Yet there is still no mention of 
an organ. 8 This mission is mentioned by several Western 
chroniclers, although we have not the slightest mention 
of any of these events in Arabic works. Indeed, the 
Western accounts are suspect in the eyes of some 
Orientalists. 9 

Since the documents fail us, we are compelled to work 
back from the Histoire litteraire de la France and Grove's 
Dictionary. In the first place, it is quite clear that or- 
gans were known in France long before the " end of the 
ninth century," as the Histoire litteraire states. The 
author of the passage in Grove's Dictionary was Dr. E. J. 
Hopkins, and he had previously collaborated with Dr. 
E. F. Rimbault in a work entitled The Organ, its History 
and Construction. In this latter work we have the fol- 
lowing passage: 10 

" It also appears that an organ, constructed by an Ara- 
bian, named Ja'far, was sent to Charlemagne by the re- 
nowned ' Commander of the Faithful,' the Khalif Harun 
al-Rashld— an incident introduced with considerable 
effect by Madame De Genlis, in her romance, Les Cheva- 
liers du Cygne. This was the instrument, in all pro- 

t Mon. Germ. Hist., i, 194. 

s Clement Huart, Histoire des Arabes, ii, 107, includes " instru- 
ments de musique " among the presents. There w no foundation 
for the statement. Perhaps this writer was misled by the account, 
of the clock which sounded the hours on a hell (cymbalum). Heyd, 
Hist, du Commerce du Levant, i, 90, has a similar statement. 

9 Her Islam, iii, 409, iv, 333. Ency. of Islam, ii, 271. 

io Hopkins-Rimbault, 14. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

bability, which Walafrid Strabo described as existing in 
the ninth century in a church at Aix-la-Chapelle." 

Comparing this passage with the account given in 
Grove's Dictionary, it is obvious that Hopkins, the author, 
was partly repeating what had been written in the Hop- 
kins-Rimbault book. At the same time it will be noticed 
that there is a wide difference between the two in another 
respect. In the Hopkins-Rimbault book we have such 
phrases as "it also appears" and "in all probability." 
In Grove's Dictionary these apparencies and probabilities 
become transformed into actual historical events, whilst 
the De Genlis reference is ignored, and the instrument is 
gratuitously stated to be a pneumatic organ. 

Among the additions of Hopkins to the Hopkins-Rim- 
bault narrative are the dates for the presumed Haruh pre- 
sent of the organ to Charlemagne. Two are given, " 822 
or 826." These dates were evidently derived from 
Seidel's book on The Organ and its Construction. 11 We 
cannot trace where Seidel got the first of these dates from, 
unless it is a slip for 802, when the presents of the first 
embassy actually arrived at Aix-la-Chapelle. The year 
%26 u is the date when Louis le Debonnaire had an hy- 
draulis (organum hydraulicum) constructed for himself 
by Georgius Veneticus. On the other hand, Seidel and 
Hopkins say that the instrument was a pneumatic organ, 
which shows that they had in mind the organ made for 
Charlemagne at the time of the Byzantine embassy in 

11 The Organ and its Construction (1855), p. 15. There were two 
English translations (1852 and 1855) of Seidel's Die Orgel urid 
ihr bau. 

12 The chroniclers give two dates — 826 and 828. 
account for Hopkins's two dates. 


This may partly 

The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

8i2. M At any rate, both the dates of Seidel and Hop- 
kins are too late, since Harun died in 809, and Charle- 
magne in 814. 

Prima facie, the Grove's Dictionary account is based on 
the Hopkins-Rimbault narrative, but what was the latter's 
source of information? Was it any other than De Gen- 
lis? Anyone reading the "Notes" with which Madame 
De Genlis furnished her work, is almost bound to con- 
clude that this was the source of information, or else, that 
both De Genlis and Hopkins-Rimbault borrowed from a 
common source. 

In her chapter on the "Origin of the Organ," Madame 
De Genlis introduces us to a certain Ja'far (Giafar), who 
is made out to be, for the sake of the story, a European 
born in Persia. This Ja'far, and his three brothers, who 
were all musicians, came to Baghdad, and, being Chris- 
tians, they met each Sunday in worship to the accom- 
paniment of musical instruments. The Khalif, however 
had forbidden Christians to worship in this manner, 
and the prohibition led Ja'far to seek for some device 
whereby he might evade the Khalif's edict, and then De 
Genlis makes Ja'far speak thus : u 

"I had a strong mechanical turn; and, after some re- 
flection, I conceived the idea of contriving an instrument, 
which would imitate those already known, and even the 
human voice. At the same time, I wanted it to produce 
a sound that resembled a concert of various tones. I 
applied myself night and day, and, in less than six 

is Mon. Germ. Hist., ii, 751. It is worth noting that this By- 
zantine embassy was at Charlemagne's court at the same time 
(812) as an embassy from the Khalif was there. It looks as 
though the second embassy from the East had a long stay. 

u De Genlis, ii, 133. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

months, formed an instrument of enormous bulk, which I 
named an organ" 

Of the later history of this organ we are informed in 
the words of Ja'far as follows : w 

"He [the Khalif] disposed .... of my organ in a 
manner which highly gratified me. The ambassadors of 
Charlemagne were then at his court; and the Khalif in- 
cluded the instrument in the number of the presents with 
which he charged them for their master." 
. In her Notes to this chapter (xiv) De Genlis says : 

"It is known that the first organ which was seen in 
Europe was sent to Charlemagne by the Khalif Harun 
[Aaron]. I have only superadded the origin of that 
instrument, which is entirely unknown to us." 

Our author distinctly says that the story of the first 
organ in Europe being a gift from Harun was already 
known! That sentence and the one in the Histoire lit- 
teraire de la France are so perilously akin, that the former 
appears suspiciously like its authority. It is certainly not 
a commonplace in French history, and although it appears 
in both ForkeP 6 and Mendel, 17 they both quote De Genlis. 

Of course, De Genlis says that her account of the 
origin of the organ "is entirely unknown to us." Did she 
mean by this that she was tapping a hitherto unknown 
source of information, or is it to be implied that the story 
was chimerical, imaginary? One thing is quite certain, 
and that is that the organ of Ja'far, as described by 
Madame De Genlis, was unheard of in the ninth century. 
It is represented as being something like a bureau that 
could be opened or shut, and played by one person who 

« Ibid., ii, 137. J« Forkel, Allgem. Gesch. d. Musilc, ii, 359. 
n Mendel, Musilc Kon. Lex., 

145 11 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

sat in front of the instrument. 2 * The author evidently had 
in mind (in spite of the " enormous bulk " in her descrip- 
tion of the instrument) a type similar to the large regal of 
comparatively modern times. 

The upshot of this inquiry is that the statement in 
Grove's Dictionary is to be traced apparently through 
Hopkins-Rimbault and the Histoire litthaire de la France 
to De Genlis. 

Strange to say, however, there does appear to be a well 
evidenced claim for the Arabian influence in the introduc- 
tion or reintroduction of the hydraulis into Western 
Europe, which has not been recognised hitherto. The 
credit of having introduced or reintroduced the organ 
into Western Europe belongs to the Byzantine Emperor 
Constantine Copronymus, who, we know, presented an in- 
strument of this sort to King P f epin in 757. 19 Whether the 
pneumatic organ ever actually disappeared in the Dark 
Ages or not, 20 we may assume with some degree of cer- 
tainty that it fell into desuetude only in the West but not 
in the East. Not so the more complex and anathematised 
hydraulis, which, we may take for granted, ceased to exist 
after the fifth century in both the East and West 
through causes already specified. 1 

The hydraulis does not reappear in the West until the 
opening of the ninth century when several Latin chronic- 
lers tell us under the year 826 (or 828) that a certain pres- 
byter, Georgius Veneticus, constructed an instrument of 

is Be Genlis, ii, 135. 

is Mori. Germ. Hist., i, 28, 29, 74, 140, 347, v. 99, 547. 
2" Cf. Gevaert, M&lopie antique, 416. 

1 See ante, p. 50, also 25, 43, 48. See my Historical Facts for 
the Arabian Musical Influence, 295-7. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

this type for Louis le Debonnaire. 2 This reference to the 
hydraulis is the first in the West since the time of Apol- 
Iinaris Sidonius (c. 483), and in the East since Isaac of 
Antioch (fl. 459) and the Talmud (c. 500). In the claims 
for the reintroduction of the hydraulis into the West, we 
can consider three distinct media — the Occidental, the 
Byzantine and the Arabian or Syro-Arabian. 

The Occidental claim is based on the assumption that 
the hydraidis never really fell into disuse. It was put for- 
ward by J. F. Rowbotham, the brilliant and learned, 
though not wholly reliable, historian of music. He firmly 
believed that Georgius of .Venice brought the art of organ 
construction in general to France from Italy, where it had 
subsisted since classical times.* If it be true that in 826 

2 Mon. Germ. Hist., i, 359. "Georgius quidam presbyter de 
Venetia, cum Baldrico comite Foroiuliense veniens, organum 
ydraulicum Aquisgrani fecit." xv, 260. "Hie est Georgius 
Veneticus, qui de patria sua ad imperatorem venit et in Aquense 
palatio organum, quod gr»ce hydraulica voeatur, mirifica arte 
composuit." Here the date is given as 828. 

s Rowbotham, iii, 259, 261-2, 395. Of course we have the state- 
ment that the (pneumatic) organ was introduced into the Church 
by Pope Vitalian (c. 660), (Joannes Diaconis Vita S. GregoriiJ, 
but this has been rejected. Buhle, 61. The Roman singers, 
Theodore and Bennet, who entered France c. 787, are said to have 
taught organ playing to the French. Mori. Germ. Hist., 1, 170. 
Even this event is suspect. The use of the word "organ " (or- 
ganum, organaj by mediseval writers still implies in many in- 
stances a general term for " a musical instrument." Isidore (ii, 
20) says : " Organum vocabulum generale." Amalarius (De eccles. 
off., iii, 3) says: "Organum vocabulum est generale vasorum 
omnium musicorum." Papias (Vocab.J says: "Organum gen- 
erale nomen." 

The word organa (plur.) in Fortunatus (Carmina, ii, 9) bears 
this reading, and similarly that in Amalarius (De eccles. off., iii, 
2), although when the latter wrote (ninth century) the pneumatic 
organ was already known in France. As for Aldhelm, his refer- 
ence to the organ in his Riddles certainly applies to "a musical 
instrument," which is the general Anglo-Saxon connotation of the 
word. (See Archiv. fur das Studium der Neueren Sprachen, xcvii, 
32; Bibl. der Angelsachsischen Prosa, iii, 136.) In De laudibus 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

(828), Italy was still the "home of organ building," as 
Rowbotham says, it is certainly strange that half a cen- 
tury later, Pope John VIII (872-82) should be constrained 
to appeal to Bishop Anno in Germany saying : " Send me 
the best organ that you can obtain, together with a player 
[ ? ], as we have none here."'' 

Another well known writer, who holds a brief for Italy, 
says: "Venice seems to have been famed for its organ 
builders during the ninth century, for Louis le Debonnaire 
sent there, it is recorded, for a certain monk, Georgius 
Benevento, to construct a hydraulic organ for his palace 
at Aix-la-Chapelle." 5 It is not recorded that Louis sent 
to Venice for Georgius. All that we are told is that he 
came in the suite of Count Baldric. Further, his name 
was not Georgius Benevento, but Georgius Veneticus. 

This Georgius Veneticus constructed an hydraulis for 
Louis le Debonnaire, and we read that the king gave in- 
structions for the necessary materials to be supplied. 5 
Coupled with this we have the claim that Eginhard (d. c. 
840), who was the biographer of Charlemagne and Louis 
le Debonnaire, and Minister of Public Works, preserved 
for posterity, the famous book, De architectura, of Vit- 
ruvius, which contains the only Latin description of the 
hydraulis and its construction in the Middle Ages. 7 

These facts, placed side by side, would rather appear to 
enhance the Occidental claim for the reintroduction of the 
hydraulis, at least circumstantially. In reality, however, 

virginum of Aldhelm, the organ described is probably a phantasy 
prompted by the Church Fathers. (See ante, p. 138, and Wiener 
Contributions towards a History of Arabico-Gothic Culture, 1, 18.) 

/.Baluze, Miscellanea, v, 490. « Schlesinger, The Organ, 267. 

BMori. Germ. Hist., i, 214. 

'Teulet, (Euvres completes d'Eginhard, ii, 46. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

the Vitruvius reference contributes no evidence, for this 
reason. Whatever guidance the presbyter Georgius 
Veneticus may have had in constructing his hydraulis, it 
was certainly not from the book of Vitruvius, even though 
we may have a copy dating from this very century. In spite 
of Seidel's opinion to the contrary, 8 the work of Vitruvius 
as we know it, contains no diagrams, and, above all else, 
it tells us absolutely nothing about the hydraulic princi- 
ple, the most essential factor of all. 9 Indeed, many 
scholars, some of whom have had Heron's more detailed 
work to refer to, have been baffled about the hydraulic 
principle of the instrument for four hundred years.™ 

The Byzantine claim for the reintroduction of the hy- 
draulis is based on a rather doubtful assumption that 
artist craftsmen, "Greeks of the Christian East," "were 
dispatched to various parts of Europe to instal the hyd- 
raulic and the pneumatic organ in palaces, theatres, 
churches and amphitheatres."" I am not aware that there 
is any authority for so wide a statement. That the By- 
zantine Emperor Constantine Copronymus sent the 
French King Pepin an organ in 757, and that Charle- 
magne had another made after a Byzantine model in 812, 
may' readily be allowed. But that is not evidence of 
Byzantine craftsmen being sent to "various parts of 
Europe" to instal organs in palaces, theatres, churches 
and amphitheatres. 

As for the hydraulis built for Louis le Debonnaire in 

8 Seidel, The Organ and its Construction, 14. 

» Brit. Mus. MS., Harl. 2767, fol. 150 et seq. 

w For a scholarly survey of this question see Maclean. 

" Schlesinger, Is European Musical Theory Indebted to the 
Arabs?, 15. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

826 (828), there is no mention of Byzantine craftsmen. 72 
What is actually stated is that Georgius Veneticus himself 
constructed the instrument after the Greek manner™ which 
does not necessarily mean that the model was borrowed 
immediately from the Byzantines, but that the hydraulis 
was an instrument invented and given its name by the 
Greeks." That Georgius borrowed from an existing By- 
zantine model does not even quadrate with history since 
we cannot trace any mention of the hydraulis among the 
Byzantines during the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries. 75 
a period which coincides with a similar gap in Western 

The evidence for the Arabian claim for the reintroduc- 
tion of the hydraulis, is not to be sought in the doubtful 
material that we have already had under consideration, 
but in Arabic sources. In the Arabic treatise on the con- 
struction of the hydraulis, attributed to Muristus, it is 
positively stated that the translator or adaptor (scarcely 
the author) had constructed an hydraulis for the " King of 
the Inner Franks." 16 This MS. was copied in the twelfth 
century, but we can be certain that the work was known 
in the tenth century, and possibly in the ninth century, or 
even the eighth century, as we have already indicated. 77 

It must be recognised that the revival of the hydraulis 
synchronises with the revival of the arts and sciences of 
antiquity by the Arabs. Further, we cannot ignore the 
fact that many if not most of these arts and sciences fil- 

22 Cf. Mon. Germ. Hist., ii, 513. 

iSMon. Germ. Hist., ii, 629. "Qui se promitteret organum 
more posse componere Grsecorum." 

UMon. Germ. Hist., xv, 260. "Quod Grace liydraulica 

« Gastoue, 571-2. 7 « See ante, p. 128. " See ante, pp. 60, 127. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

tered into Europe via the Arabian culture-contact, and we 
have definite clues that Arabian musical instruments and 
practices were finding their way into Europe at this time. 78 

Among the sciences which are intimately connected with 
the hydraulis are hydrostatics and pneumatics, and seeing 
that both Philon and Heron were translated from Greek 
into Arabic, and then from Arabic into Latin, it is not 
perhaps too much to assume that a work or works on the 
construction of the hydraulis may also have been trans- 
lated from Arabic into Latin. Indeed, Kircher, who deals 
with several instruments of these types, may have had 
documents rather than actual specimens as his authority. 

As to the identity of the "King of the Inner Franks" 
for whom the author (but more probably the compiler) of 
the Muristus treatise made a hydraulis, Hartwig Deren- 
bourg, commenting on the opinion of Pere Cheikho, 79 says 
that it was the Frankish king Pepin. 30 The instrument, 
however, that was presented by the Byzantine emperor to 
Pepin in 757 is generally supposed to have been a pneu- 
matic organ, although we have no definite indication that 
it was such an instrument. 

The term " Inner Franks " (Afranjat al-ddkhila) means 
the Franks furthest away from the borders of the Khalif- 
ate. We find a similar expression being used by Al- 
Cjazwini who refers to the " Inner Byzantines " ( batin al- 
Rum) in the same sense. 7 Professor Dr. Wiedemann was 

38 On the whole question see my Arabian Influence on Musical 
Theory (1925) and Historical Facts for the Arabian Musical In- 
fluence (1930). 

is Mashriq, ix. 

20 Revue Musicale, 6e annee, Nos. 8-9, p. 193. 

1 Al-Qazwlm, ii, 410. See also Jacob, Ein arabischer Berichter- 
statter aus dem 10. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1891), p. 14, and AI-Maq- 
qarl, Moh. Byn., i, 511, and Appendix xliii. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

of opinion that if one of the German emperors were in- 
tended it must have been one of the Carolingian or Saxon 
emperors. 2 It has also been suggested, as we have seen, 
that the Horn of Roland at Roncevalles was a hydraulis, 5 
and colour is lent to the suggestion by reason of the hy- 
draulis being actually known as the " Horn of Alexander 
the Great."'' 

It is also not improbable that Georgius Veneticus, who 
constructed the 826 (828) hydraulis, may have learned 
about the instrument from Arabian or Syro-Arabian con- 
structors. It happens that Georgius was the name of one 
of the envoys that came with Khalif Harun's embassy to 
Charlemagne in 807, carrying presents for the Frankish 
emperor. He was a monk of Jerusalem, which for two 
centuries had been in Arab hands. Some of the Khalif's 
envoys appear to have stayed at Charlemagne's court for 
a considerable time, since we read of their presence there 
in 812. 5 Perhaps Georgius was one of the original envoys 
of 807, but being a Frank by nationality, 6 he may have 
been desirous of staying in the West, 7 and may have set- 
tled at Venice. If so, this may be the same Georgius, now 
surnamed Veneticus, who came with Count Baldric of the 
Marches of Pannonia, to the court of Charlemagne in 826 
(828) promising to construct an hydraulis. Venice was in 
political and commercial contact with both Syria and 

2 Wiedemann, Byz. u. arab. alcustische Instrumente , 155. 

s Ibid. it Steele, Soger Bacon's Secret-urn, Secretorum. 

* The Frankish envoys stayed for about three years in Baghdad. 

sPompeo Molmenti, Venice. The Middle Ages, ii, 162, says 
that this Georgius came from the island of S. Georgio in Alga 
[sic]. I do not know the authority for this statement. 

' After the rebellion of 746, when Marwan razed the walls of 
Jerusalem, it is probable that the relations between Muslims and 
Christians were strained. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

Egypt at this time, and it was the most important Euro- 
pean port for the Levantine trade. Here, the services of 
Georgius Monachus of Jerusalem, who was au fait with the 
languages and customs of the peoples of the Khalifate, 
would be invaluable. 8 At any rate, Georgius Veneticus 
was afterwards given the post of abbe of the monastery 
of S. Sauve Ie Martyr in Valenciennes. 9 

Whether we grant that the " King of the Inner Franks " 
was Pepin, or recognise the identity of the two Georges 
or not, it still remains fairly certain that the ninth cen- 
tury hydraidis of Western Europe came from the 
Orient. Amedee Gastoue, the historian of Byzantine 
music, says that whilst the small portatives were intro- 
duced into the Occident by Byzantine envoys to Charle- 
magne's court, it. appears that "the makers of the first 
large organs [positives] in the Occident in the ninth cen- 
tury, were, without doubt, either Greeks or Syrians." 20 
Since Gastoue gives his opinions elsewhere that the hy- 
draulis had died out by this time amongst the Greeks," the 
greater probability rests with the Syrians. Yet the Syrians 
were only prompted to this work by reason of the Arabian 
culture movement. Until the days of Islam, the Syrians 
showed scarcely any interest in the arts and sciences. 22 

In Byzantium, the idea of a hydraulic pressure stabiliser 
as in the hydraulis, had been superseded by the barystath- 
mic principle of the weighted blast-bag. In the face of 
this there seems to be no reason why a return to the old 
system should have been made by them without some ex- 
ternal prompting. On the other hand the Arabs did not 

* Heyd, Hist, du Commerce d,u Levant, i, 94, 109. 

»Teulet, op. cit., ii, 328. 10 Gastoue, 546. "Gastoue, 571-2. 

12 Farmer, Historical Facts for the Arabian Musical Influence, 
p. 130. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

possess any type of organ, at any rate not the kydraulis, 
until the Syro-Arabian school of translators revealed the 
treatises on organ construction written by the Greeks of 
old. When, at the close of the eighth or beginning of the 
ninth century, the Arabs began to build the kydraulis, 
after the manner of the Ancients, it is highly probable that 
the Byzantines, who had discarded the instrument some 
centuries before, and had lost all knowledge of its actual 
construction, readily adopted the kydraulis anew under 
the impulse of the Arabian culture movement. 

The artistic, literary and scientific impetus given to 
Byzantium by this movement at the beginning of the ninth 
century, is well attested. We see it in architecture/ 5 and 
in the industrial arts most markedly." That scientific 
and classical studies began to be revived in Byzantium 
precisely at this period, is strangely coincident. 21 The 
evidence of the Utrecht Psalter, which especially concerns 
our subject, is not inconsiderable. This production is said 
to date from the ninth century, and from the testimony 
of the paleographers and other experts, we are led to con- 
clude that the designs reveal Oriental influences, probably 
Syrian, or perhaps Byzantine under Syro-Arabian urge. 26 
It is in the Utrecht Psalter that we get our first pictorial 
representation of the kydraulis in the Middle Ages. 

i> Cambridge Mediaeval History, iv, 39. Bury, Hist, of the East- 
em Boman Empire, 436. 

"Bury, op. cit., 433. Diehl, Manuel D 'Art byzantin, 369, 643. 

^ Gibbon (Bury edit.), vi, 104. Omont, Facsimiles des plus an- 
ciens MSS. grecs du, IX ou XIX siecle. 

^"1 consider that the musical instruments [in the Utrecht 
Psalter] bear distinct traces of Oriental influence such as the 
Greeks of Asia Minor, Syria and Northern Egypt would be likely 
to have felt in their intercourse with the Persians, Arabs, etc." 
Kathleen Sehlesinger, Precursors, 344. Italics mine. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

A final word concerning the later history of the ky- 
draulis may not be cut of place here. Dr. Maclean says : 
"Water organs [i.e., kydraules] hardly existed after the 
ninth century." Further, the year 850 is assumed by him 
as the date when they died out. 17 I believe that it can be 
demonstrated that the kydraulis existed at a much later 
date. 28 It is certainly mentioned by Isho' bar 'Ali (ninth 
century), 29 Aurelianus Reomensis (fl. 890), 20 Hucbald (d. 
c. 930), or Pseudo-Hucbald, 2 Bar Saroshwai (tenth cen- 
tury), 2 Isho' bar Bahlul (fl. 963)/ Elias bar Shinaya (b. 
975)/ the Ikhwan al-Safa' [ ?] (tenth century), 5 and Ger- 
bert (d. 1003). 6 Possibly, the instrument cannot be traced 
later than Jerome of Moravia (thirteenth century)/ and 
the opinion of Warman that it existed until the seven- 
teenth century, 8 is probably due to his confusing the ky- 
draulis with other hydraulic organs of ,the " air com- 
pressor" type. 9 

Gerbert, who later became Pope Silvester II, is claimed 
to have studied under Arabian masters. Certainly, he was 
deeply influenced by Arabian learning, and is credited 
with having introduced several "Arabian sciences" into 
Europe, including the Arabic numerals. 20 He was highly 
skilled in music and was probably "beyond his age in 

17 Maclean, 192, 213. 

j s It must be admitted, however, that most of the data, being 
from eastern sources, were unknown to Dr. Maclean. 

is Payne Smith, 877-8. 

1 Gerbert, Script., i, 109. 

3 Payne Smith, loc. cit. 

s Ikhwan al-Safa', i, 92. 

7 Coussemaker, Script., i, 5. 

"Kircher, ii, 308. 

w For a fuller discussion of Gerbert in relation to the Arabian 
culture movement, see my Historical Facts for the Arabian Musi- 
cal Influence, pp. 177-86, and Appendix 13. 


20 Gerbert, Script., i, 33. 

2 Payne Smith, loc. cit. 

■4 Payne Smith, loc. cit. 

<> Migne, Pair. Lat., clxxix, 1140. 

8 Warman, 44. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 

this science,"" seeing that both France and Italy were in 
a parlous state in this respect. 22 In his letters there are 
many references to the organ, and he is said to have con- 
structed an hydraulis whilst he was at Rheims about the 
year 976, and certainly before 980. 

The description of this hydraulis by William of 
Malmesbury in his Gesta rerum Anglorum has given rise 
to quite a crop of misconceptions. Here is the passage 
together with a fresh translation which probably gives a 
correct explication of the much contorted phrase per aquae 
calefactae violentiam : 

" Extant apud illam ec- 
clesiam doctrinae ipsius 
documenta : horologium arte 
mechanica compositum; or- 
gana hydraulica, ubi mirum 
in modum, per aquae cale- 
factae violentiam, ventus 
emergens implet concavita- 
tem barbiti, et per multi- 
foratiles tractus aereae fis- 
tulae modulatos clamores 

" In that church [Rheims] 
are still extant proofs of 
his science; a clock con- 
structed on mechanical 
principles, and an hydrau- 
lis in which the air, in an 
extraordinary manner, by 
hydrostatic force, fills the 
cavity of the instrument, 
and through numerous aper- 
tures, the brazen pipes emit 
harmonious sounds." 

It was the phrase, "-per aquae calefactae violentiam? 
that gave rise to the fables in our histories about the 
" steam organ." 25 Calefacio, in its figurative sense, means 
" to disturb, excite," so as to give power. Water disturbed 
from its level in the ar\c\a of the hydraulis, becomes a 
static force. 

nEncy. Brit., xxv, 118. « Richer, iii, 44, 49. 

u> Gesta reg. Anal. (T. D. Hardy Edition, 1840), i, 276. Mac- 
lean, 212. It must be always borne in mind, however, that the 
Gerbert instrument might have been a "steam organ" of the 
Heron type. See Heron's Pneumatics, Sect. 75. 


The Arabian Organ in Europe. 

From whence did Gerbert derive his "invention "? It 
is highly probable that the Arab Umayyads of Al-An- 
dalus had klepsydras from an early date (see ante, p. 80). 
Toledo had a famous water-clock (bankam) designed by 
Al-Zarkali in the eleventh century. (Al-Maqqari, Moh. 
Dyn., i, 81-3, 385). It has already been shown that the 
organ was probably known to the Arabs of Spain." The 
poet Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) speaks of it among a number 
of Arab musical instruments : u 

And the duff, the tunbur, and the mizmar, 

Likewise the urghan and the rababa, 

And the nay, the mausul, and the shabbaba." 

At the same time it ought to be pointed out that the 
conclusions adopted by M. Soriano-Fuertes on this ques- 
tion are certainly unwarrantable. He has stated that the 
mizmar was an hydraulic organ, and that the shahrud 
was a clavier-organ. 10 His sources, Al-Farabi and Al- 
Shalahl ( = Kitab al-imta') do not contain any statements 
that warrant such affirmations being made. 

What ultimately contributed to the disuse of the hy- 
draidis in Western Europe was precisely the same factor 
that had led to its supersession after the fifth century, that 
is to say, the improvement in the weighted blast-bag of 
the pneumatic organ, which provided a more convenient 
force of stabilisation of the wind pressure, than that in- 
volved in the hydraulis. 17 

U See ante, p. 76. 

H Saflnat al-mulk (Cairo, a.h. 1309), p. 473. 

MMusica Arabe-Espailola (Barcelona, 1853), pp. 34-5. Cf. 54-5. 
He erroneously writes mizamir and xamerud. 

H Maclean, 192. The year 650 is given as the approximate date 
for the adoption of the weighted blast-hag. We do not know the 
authority for positing this date, but the evidence of the Obelisk 
of Theodosius (d. 393) almost compels an earlier one. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 



I Digit = I isba' or 'aq& 2 - 2 5 cm. 

I Shut Digit = I isba' madmilm 4-5 cm - 

i Open Digit = i isba' maftiih 675 cm. 

1 Span= ishibr 2 7 cm " 

1 Cubit = 1 dkira' (= 1 Hebrew ammah) ... 54 cm. 

1 According to Baron Carra de Vaux (Journal Asiatigwe, Mars- 
Av.^ 1891, p 319) an 'aqd is a smaller measure than an isba . bee 
also' Ber 'islam, via (1918), p. 56. 



HERON'S Mechanics has come down to us in an 
Arabic version practically complete, whilst only 
fragments of the original Greek have been preserved. 
Unfortunately for our present studies, the Pneumatics has 
only survived in Greek, although we know that it existed 
in Arabic. As Heron's hydraulis is much later than the 
instrument described in the Arabic Miiristus treatise, it is 
essentia] perhaps that Heron's description should be 
included here. 

The translation is that made by J. G. Greenwood, Pro- 
fessor of Greek and Latin at Owen's College, Manchester, 
and Bennet Woodcroft, Professor of Machinery in the 
University College, London. 1 Other translations have 
been made both before and since, but this translation is 
just as suitable for the present purpose as a fresh trans- 
lation based on the textual emendations of Schmidt 5 
would be. Here and there, however, slight changes have 

1 Woodcroft, B., The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria. From, 
the Original Greek. London, 1851. > 

2 Herons von Alexandria Druckwcrke und Automat entheater 
Griechisch u. Deutsch Herausgegeben von W. Schmidt. Leipzig, 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

been made in the terms used, but in each case the original 
words of Greenwood and Woodcroft are given in the 

Heron describes how the cylindrical pumps of this 
hydraulis, instead of being worked by hand, may be 
worked by a wind-mill. The Banu Musa also devise the 
wind-mill among their automatic appliances for working 
their "organ." 


"Let A B C D be a cistern (bomiskos) 3 of bronze con- 
taining water. In the water invert a hollow hemisphere, 
called a fnigeus, E F G H, which will allow of the pas- 
sage of the water at. the bottom. From the top of this 
let two tubes ascend above the cistern; one of them, G K 
L M, bent without the cistern and communicating with a 
cylinder/ N X P, inverted, and having its inner sur- 
face made perfectly level to fit a piston. Into this cylin- 
der let the piston R S be accurately fitted, that no air 
may enter by its side; and to the piston attach a rod, 
T U, of great strength. Again, attach to the piston rod 
another rod, U Q, moving about a pin at U, and also 
working like the beam of a lever on the upright rod 
W Y, which must be well secured. On the inverted bot- 
tom of the cylinder N X P let another smaller cylinder 
Z, rest, communicating with N X P and closed by a 
lid above : in the lid is a hole through which the air will 
enter the cylinder. Place a thin plate under the hole in 
the lid to close it, upheld by means of four pins passing 

s " Small altar." 

' Bos. 


Appendix II. 

through holes in the plate, and furnished with heads so 
that the plate cannot fall off : such a plate is called a 

"Again, let another tube, F I, ascend from F G, com- 
municating with a transverse wind-chest 5 / V, on which 
rest the organ-pipes* (auloi) a a a, communicating with 
the transverse wind-chest, and having at the lower ex- 
tremities small boxes (glossokoma) . . . . ; these boxes 
communicate with the organ-pipes, and their orifices b b b, 
must be open. Across these orifices let perforated sliders 7 
move, so that, when the sliders are pushed home, the 
holes in them coincide with the holes in the organ-pipes, 
but, when the sliders are drawn outwards, the connection 
is broken and the organ-pipes are closed. 

" Now, if the transverse beam U Q be depressed at Q, 
the piston R S will rise and force out the air in the cylin- 
der N X P; the air will close the aperture in the small 
cylinder Z by means of the valve described above, and 
pass along the tube M L K G into the hemisphere : again 
it will pass out of the hemisphere along the tube F I 
into the transverse wind-chest / V, and out of the trans- 
verse wind-chest into the organ-pipes, if the apertures in 
the organ-pipes and the sliders, coincide, that is, if the 
sliders, either all, or some of them, have been pushed 

"In order that, when we wish any of the organ-pipes 
to sound, the corresponding holes may be opened, and 
closed again when we wish the sound to cease, we may 
employ the following contrivance. Imagine one of the 
boxes at the extremities of the organ-pipe, c d, to be 
isolated, d being its orifice, e the communicating organ- 

« " Tube." 

6 " Pipes." 





The Organ of the Ancients. 

Brit. Mus. MS., Harl. 5589. 

pipe, r s the slider fitted to it, and g the hole in the slider 

not coinciding with the organ-pipe e. Take three jointed 

bars / h, h m, m o, of which the bar f k is attached to 

the slider s /, while the whole moves about a pin at n. 


Appendix II. 

Now, if we depress, with the hand, the extremity o towards 
d, the orifice of the box, we shall push the slider inwards, 
and, when it is in, the aperture in it will coincide with 
that in the organ-pipe. 8 That, when we withdraw the 
hand the slider may be spontaneously drawn out and 
close the communication, the following means may be 
employed. Underneath the boxes let a rod, f q, run, 
equal and parallel to the transverse wind-chest / V, and 
fix to this slips of horn, elastic and curved, of which 7, 
lying opposite c d, is one. A string fastened to the ex- 
tremity of the slip of horn, is carried round the extremity 
h, so that, when the slider is pushed out, the string is tight- 
ened; if, therefore, we depress the extremity o and drive 
the slider inwards, the string will forcibly pull the piece 
of horn and straighten it, but, when the hand is with- 
drawn, the horn will return again to its original position 
and draw away the slider from the orifice, so as to destroy 
the correspondence between the holes. This contrivance 
having been applied to the box of each pipe, when we re- 
quire any of the organ-pipes to sound we must depress 
the corresponding key with the fingers; and when we re- 
quire any of the sounds to cease, remove the fingers, where- 
upon the sliders will be drawn out and the organ-pipes 
will cease to sound. 

" The water is poured into the cistern that the super- 
abundant air (I mean, of course, that which is thrust out 
of the cylinder and forces the water upwards), may be 
confined in the hemisphere, so that the organ-pipes which 
are free to sound may always have a supply. The piston 
R S, when raised, drives the air out of the cylinder into 
the hemisphere, as has been explained; and when de- 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

pressed, opens the valve in the small cylinder Z. By this 
means the cylinder is filled with air from without, which 
the piston, when forced up again, will again drive into 
the hemisphere. It would be better that the rod T U ■ 
should move about a pivot at T also, by means of a loop' 
R, which may be fitted into the bottom of the piston, and 
through which the pivot must pass, that the piston may 
not be drawn aside, but rise and fall vertically." 

9 "Single [loop,]," 





ATHANASIUS KIRCHER (1602-80), the author of 
Musurgia Universalis (1650 et seq), describes, in 
this work, an automatic hydraulic organ, which is some- 
what similar to the instrument designed by the Banu 
Musa. The wind supply is slightly different. Instead 
of the one horizontal pipe of the latter, Kircher has eleven 
or more vertical pipes. 

Here is the main part of Kircher's description trans- 
lated from the Latin into English for the first time. 



" For an hydraulic organ, three things are necessary : 
water, air, and a recording barrel (rota fhonotactica). 
First of all there must be flowing water; air as wind for 
the organ; and a recording barrel as the instrument of 
automatic sound. 

" You proceed in this way : An organ having been 
arranged for in a suitable place, in accordance with given 
designs, you first of all construct a wind ' feeder ' (cam- 
era ceplia), as already described in Pragmatia II. 



The Organ of the Ancients. 

So let there be a ' feeder ' V X Y R, five palms in height, 
and three and a half palms in width, with diaphragms 
perforated in the form of a sieve, and provided with two 
pipes, of which the larger, T S, will supply fresh water 
with a stop cock (epistomium) at T for stopping the flow 
when required. This pipe will be diverted within the 
vessel ( = ' feeder '). Above this vessel there is another 
pipe, V Z, which conveys the wind blast to the 'wind- 
chest,' i.e., into the anemotheca, of the organ. The water, 
rushing through the pipe T, S with great force into the 
vessel ( = ' feeder ') at R, puts in constant motion not 
only the wind already there, but other wind generated 
afresh. And the air, compelled by the density of the 
moisture, seeking expansion through the perforated or 
carded diaphragms, and unable to find it, will escape 
through V Z into the 'wind-chest.' 

" Further, the water, escaping with great force through 
the opening R, turns the water-wheel (rota) M R, 
and will turn the cog-wheel (vertebra) L, and the cylin- 
der or recording barrel H K. This [recording barrel], 
with its teeth regularly disposed on the surface, in ac- 
cordance with the designs given, will touch each of the 
levers (spatula) working on a steel rod A B. The levers, 
being caught by the teeth of the recording barrel, will 
pull down the 'pallets' (falmuUe) of the abacus claviar- 
ius or 'keys' (tasti [= tacti\) E F, to which they are 
joined. These being pulled down open 'valves' (platis- 
matia), or as the Italians call them, battiventi, and thus 
the wind, forced violently into the 'wind-chest' through 
the open 'valves,' will enter the organ pipes, and the de- 
sired harmony will finally be obtained 

" This automatic construction can be applied not only to 

organs but also to stringed instruments." 



h-»~-~**\ •> 

1 -■ • -31 \. 

r* 3 *^---^ if 

... ..-■■« is 

11 -.wilf 


■ jv- j .^ 

'■ ■ ■ . ' ' I /"^i""" "j 

:,■* J.-X'l 


\ \^BaS f \i\ I ' »^ M ^ "'^v 

: '=^a 4 ,: ■■:fmm \hi*\ ill 


ml Is 


Appendix III. 

This last paragraph is strangely reminiscent of the 
Banu Musa, who tell us that their instrument could be 
applied to "the lute or instruments of strings like 

Kircher also describes more elaborate instruments with 
dancing figures and wing-flapping birds. A design of 
one of these instruments is given here (Fig. 15), but it is 
taken from a certain Gaspar Schott, a cool imitator of 
Kircher, whose work deserves remembrance on this 
account. 2 

The Banu Musa, like Kircher, also allow for "figures 
which dance and follow this organ," and, strange to say, 
the Chinese organ "presented by the Muslim kingdoms," 
" as an offering from the lands of the West," presumably 
by Hulagu to Khubilai {ca. 1260-64), had figures of pea- 
cocks on the instruments which "flapped their wings and 
danced in time with the music." 2 

1 Schott, G., Magica universalis natures et artis, pars II. Acus- 
tica (1657). 

3 Journal, Royal Asiatic Society, April, 1926, p. 193, et seq. 


The Organ of the Ancients. 


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Names of works in italics. 

b. stands for ibn. 

- before a name or work stands for AU. 

Abaye Nahmani, 41. 

Abba Arika. 26. 

'Abd al-Qadir b. Ghaibi, 76. 

'Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad 

(Abu Zaid), called Ibn Khaldun, 

Abu Ahmad b. al-Rashid, 57. 
Abu'l-Faraj al-Isfahanl. See 'AH 

b. al-Husain (Abu'l-Faraj) al- 

Abu'1-Fida'. See Isma'il b. 'AH 

(Abu'l-Fida'),pajp3 Abu'1-Fida'. 
Abu'1-Majd Muhammad b. Abi'l- 

Hakam. See Muhammad b. 

Abi'l-Hakam (Abu'1-Maid). 
Abu Zakariyya Yahya al-Bayasi. 

See Yahya b. Isma'il (Abu Zak- 
ariyya) al-Bayasi. 
Achil'lini, 124. 
Aelfric, 1. 
Ahmad b. Muhammad. (Abu'l-'Ab- 

bas) called Ibn Khallikan, 87. 
Ahmad b. Musa b.Shakir, 87. 
Alimad b. Mustafa, called Tash- 

kopri Zade, 77. 
Ahmad b. al-Qasim (Abu'l-'Ab- 

bas), called Ibn Abi Usaibi'a, 74, 

Ahmad b. 'Umar b. Dusta, called 

"Tbn Rusta, 58. 
Aldhelm, 138, 147. 
Alexander the Great, 54, 120, 152. 
Alf la'da wa laila, 74. 
'AH b. al-Husain (Abu'l-Faraj) al- 

Isfahanl, 57. 
'AH b. al-Husain (Abu'l-Hasan) 

al-Mas'udi, 4, 51, 58. 

'AH b. Yusuf (Abu'l-Hasan), called 

Ibn al-Qifti, 11, 16, 60, 62, 120. 
AmalariuB, i47. 
Ameristos, 18, 20. 
'Amr b. Bahr, called Al-Jahi?, 13, 

16, 57, 60'. 
Anno, Bishop, 148. 
Apocrypha, 25. 

Apollinaris Sidonius, 48, 50, 147. 
Apollodoros, 3. 
Apollonios of Perga, 14, 20, 55, 56, 

67, 79, 80-6, 114, 115. 
Archimedes, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 

55, 67, 79, 80-1. 
Aristokles, 3, 4. 
Ariston, Aristu, Aristun, 12 17, 

Aristotle, 12, 19, 79. 
Aristoxenos, 3. 
Arsinoe Zephyritis, 15. 
Athenaios, 3, 4, 11, 15, 38, 41. 
Audsley, G. A., 141. 
Augustine, St., 5, 46. 
Aurelian Reomensis, 155. 
'Awn b. Muhammad, 57. 


Bacon, Roger, 120-4. 

Badi' al-Zaman al-Asturlabl. See 

Hibatallah b. al-Husain (Abu'l- 

Qasim) al-Asturlabi. 
Badi' al-Zarrian al-Jazari. See 

Isma'il b. al-Razzaz (Abu'l-'Izz) 

Baldric, Count, 148, 152. 
Banu Musa, 7, 14, 55, 57, 67, 79, 

85, 87-118, 164, 166. 
Barker, W. B., 24. 



Index No. 1. 

Bar Saroshivai. See Henan Isho' 
bar Saroshwai. 

-Bayasi. See Yahya b. Isma'Il 
(Abu Zakariyya) al-Bayasi. 

Bennet, 147. 

Bernelinus, or Pseudo Bernelinus, 

Bertinoro, Obadya (Obadiah) de, 

Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube, 139. 

Bible, 1-2, 8, 22, 24. 

-BIrunl. See Muhammad b. Ah- 
mad (Abu'l-Raihan) al-Biruni. 

Budge, E. A. W.,' 125. 

Burton, R. F., 117. 

Cambridge MSS., 72. 

Cato, Marcus Porcius, 5. 

Caesiodorus, 46. 

Cecilia, St., 8, 9. 

Cicero, 38. 

Chappell, W., 15. 

Charlemagne, 80, 140-44, 148, 149, 

Cheetham.S., 141. 

Cheikho, Pere Louis, 70, 151. 

Claudianus, 48. 

Collangettes, M., 88, 106, 114. 

Constantine Copronymus, Em- 
peror. 47, 149. 

Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Em- 
peror, 47. 

Coverdale, Miles, 1. 


David, King, 8, 9, 78. 
Dallam, Thomas, 78. 
Demaison, L., 139. 
Derenbourg, Hartwig, 151. 


Eberhard of Freisling, 70. 
Eginhard, 148. 

Elias bar Shinaya, 6, 44, 53, 155. 
Ephraem Syrus, 45. 
Euklid, 18 
Euergetes I, 15 
Euergetes II, 15. 
Evliya Chelebi [Evliya Efendi], 3, 
77, 78. 


Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. See Mu- 
hammad b. 'Umar (Abu 'Abdal- 
lah) al-Razi. 

Fandurus, 20. 

-Farabi. See Muhammad b. Mu- 
hammad (Abu Nasr) al-Farabi. 

Felix Monachus, 141. 

-Fihrist, 87, 120. See _also Mu- 
hammad b. Ishaq (Abu'l-Faraj) 
al-Warraq, called Ibn al-Nadim. 

Forkel, J. N., 145. 

Fortunatus, 147. 


Galpin, Canon F. W-, 76. 
Gastoue, A., 45, 153. 
Genlis^ Comtesse de, 142-6. 
Georgius Monachus, 141, 152-3. 
Georgius Veneticus, 143, 146, 147. 
Gerbert, l'Abbe, 47. 
Gerbert. See Silvester, Pope. 
Gmara, 26. 
Greenwood, J. G., 159. 


Hafiz. See Muhammad (Shams al- 

Din), called Hafiz. 
Hajji Khalifa. See Mustafa b. 
' "Abdallah (Katib Chelebi), called 

Hajji Khalifa. 
Hariin al-Rashid, Khalif, 80, 

139-46, 152. 
-Hasan b. Musa b. Shakir, 87. 
Hawkins, Sir John, 32, 36. 
Hedylos, 15. 
Henan Isho' bar Saroslnrai, 52, 

Hermes, or Pseudo Hermes, 55. ■ 
Heron, 15, 20, 38, 40, 52, 55, 56, 

79, 80, 115. 119. 127, 135, 149, 

151, 156, 159-64. 
Heyd, W., 142. 
Hibatallah b. alJEusain (Abu'l- 

Qasim) al-Asturlabi, called Badi' 

al-Zaman al-Asturlabi, 118. 
Hilal b. Abi Hilal'al-Himsi, 14, 56. 
Hippias of Elis, 18. 
Histoire litteraire de la France, 

Holkham. Ball MS., 124. 
Hopkins, E. J., 141-4. 
Hosha'yah, Rabbi, 43. 
Huart, C, 142. 

Hucbald, or Pseudo Hucbald, 155. 
Hulagu. Khan, 75, 76, 167. 
Hunain b. Ishaq (Abu Zaid) al- 

'Abadi, 52, 57. 
-Husain b. 'Abdallah (Abu 'Ali), 

called Ibn Sina, 73-5. 


Index No. 1. 

-Husain b. Muhammad (Abu Man- 
'sur). called Ibn Zaila, 72, 74. 


Iamblichos, 45. , 

Ibn Abi'l-Hakam. See Muham- 
mad b." xVbi'l-Hakam (Abii'l- 

Ibn Abi Usaibi'a. See Ahmad b. 
al-Qasim' ( Abu' 1- 'Abbas), called 
Ibn Abi Usaibi'a. 

Ibn al-Nadim. See Muhammad b. 
Ishaq (Abu'l-Faraj) al-War- 
raq, called Ibn al-Nadim. 

Ibn al-Naqqash. See 'Ali b. 'Isa, 
(Abii'l-Hasan), called Ibn al- 

Ibn al-Qifti. See 'Ali b. Yiisuf 
(Abfi'l-Hasan), called Ibn al- 

Ibn al-Zayyat, Wazir, 60. 

Ibn Ghaibi. See 'Abd al-Qadir 
ibn Ghaibi. 

Ibn Khallikan. See Ahmad b. 
Muhammad (Abu'l-Abbas), 
called Ibn Khallikan. 

Ibn Khaldiin. See 'Abd al-Rali- 
man b. Muhammad (Abu Zaid), 
called Ibn Kbaldfln. 

Ibn Khurdadhbih. See 'Ubaidal- 
lah b. 'Abdallah (Abu'l-Qasim), 
called Ibn Khurdadhbih. 

Ibn Maimun. See Musii b. Mai- 
mun (Abu 'Imran) al-Qurtubi, 
called Ibn Maimun or Maiinon- 

Ibn Rusta. See Ahmad b. 'Umar 
b. Dusta, called Ibn Rusta. 

Ibn Sina. See -Husain b. 'Abdal- 
lah (Abii 'All),' called Ibn Sina. 

Ibn Zaiia. See -Husajn b. Mu- 
hammad (Abii Mansiir), called 
Ibn Zaila. 

Ibrahim b. Yahya (Abii Ishaq) al- 
Naqqash, called Al-Zarqall, 157. 

Ikhwan al-Safa', 74, 137, 155. 

Isaac of An'tioch, 48-50, 147. 

Isho' bar Bahlul, 4, 6, 47, 52, 155. 

Isidore of Seville, 147. 

Isma'il b. 'All (Abu'l-Fida'), called 
Abii'1-Fida' 16. 61-2. 

Isma'il b. al-Hadi, 57. 

Isma'il b. al-Razzaz (Abu'I-'Izz) al- 
Jazari, called Badi' al-Zaman al- 
Jazari, 118. 

-Isfahan!. See 'Ali 
(Abu'l-Faraj) al-Isfahani. 

Ja'far, 142, 144-5. 

-Jiihiz. See 'Amr b. Bahr, called 

Jastrov, M., 36-7, 43. 
Jem, Prince, 54. 
Jerome, St., or Pseudo St. Jerome, 

Jerome of Moravia, 155. 
Jirjis ('Abdallah) b. Abi'l-Yasir, 

called Al-Makin, 125. 
Johannes Hispalensis, 121-2. 
John VIII, Pope, 148. 
Jubal, 1, 8. 
Judah ai-Harizi, 121. 
Julia Tyrrhenia, 39. 
Julian the Apostate, 38, 46. 
Julius Firmicus, 5. 
Julius Pollux, 38, 40. 
Justinian II, 47. 


Khubilai, Khan 76, 138, 167. 
-Kinvarizml. See Muhammad b. 

Ahmad (Abii 'Abdallah) al- 

-Kindi. See Ya'qub b. Ishaq (Abii 

Yiisuf) al-Kindi. 
Kircher, A., 21-2, 32-3, 36, 114, 

124, 151, 165-7. 
Kitab al-siyasa, 120-1, 125-6, 137. 
Ktesibios, 15-6, 19, 39, 128. 


Larousse, P., 141. 

Lightfoot, J., 35-6. 

Louis le Debonnaire, 119, 143, 

Lucretius, 5. 


Maclean, C, 10, 15, 155, 157. 

-Mahdi, Khalif. 57. 

-Makin. See Jirjis ('Abdallah) b. 
Abi'I-Yasir, called AI-Makin. 

Maimonides. See Miisa b. Mai- 
mun (Abu 'Imran) al-Qurtubi, 
called, Ibn Maimun. 

Mamerkus, Mamertinos, Mamer- 
tios, Marmetios, 18. 

Margoliouth, D. S., 18, 37. 

-Ma'miin, Khalif, 55-7, 87. 

-Mansiir, Khalif, 54, 141. 

Mar Shmuel, 26. 

Martianus Capella, 48. 

Marzotom, 17. 


Index No. 1. 

Marwan, Khalif, 152. Philip of Tripoli, 121-2. 

-Mashriq, 141. Plato, 3, 5, 11. 

-Mas'fldi. See 'AH b. al-Husain Pliny the Elder, 15, 38. 

(Abu'l-Hasan) al-Mas'udl. Pommersfelden Codex, 70. 

Mendel, H., 145. Porphyry, 45. 

Midrashim, 24, 43. Porta Leone, Abraham de, 30-3, 
Milton, John, 2. 36-7. 

Mishnah, 26. Printz, W. C, 32. 

Moule, A. C, 76. Proklos, 18. 

Muhammad b. Abi'l-Hakam (Abu'l- Pythagoras, 12, 77. 

.Majd), 75. _ _ _ 

Muhammad b. Ahmad (Abu Rai- 

han) al-Blruni, 20. 
Muhammad b. al-Hasan, 57. 
Muhammad b. Ishaq (Abu'l-Fa- 

raj) al-Warraq, 'called Ibn al- 

Nadim, 16, 60, 62. 
Muhammad b. Muhammad (Abu Quintillian, 2. 

Nasr) al-Farabi, 73, 116. Quittard. H., 141. 

Muhammad b. Musa b. Shakir, 57, Ousta b. Luqa, 56. 

87. . ' 

Muhammad (Shams al-Dfn), called 

IJafiz, 76. 
Muhammad b. 'TJmar (Abu 'Ab- 

dallah) al-Razi, called Fakhr al- 

Dln al-Razi, 12. 
Muhammad b. Yahya, 57. 
-Miiqtadir. Khalif,' 80. 
Miirtus, Muristus, 13, 16-20, 35, iJonaii "Ernest 45 

39; 52 60 : 70, -127-36,' 138, 150. ' gfK, ftffi, %\ 
Musa b. Maimun (Abu 'Imran) al- Rimbault E F 141-6 

Qurtubl, called Ibn Maimun 34. Ri s tun. 'See Ariston. ' 
Mustafa b. Abdallah (Katib Che- R iand 152 

le ' b 'i). called Hajjl Khalifa, 12, R OT vbot'ham,' J. F., 147. 

Qantwan, 20. 
Qatasibiyus, 19. 

-Qazwini. See Zakariyya b. Mu- 
hammad (Abu Yahya) al-Qaz- 


Rab. See Abba Arika. 

Rashi. See Solomon ben Yighaq, 
called Rashi. 

-Razi, Fakhr al-DIn. See Mu- 
hammad b. 'TJmar (Abu 'Abdal- 
lah) al-Razi. 

-Musta'in. Khalif, 56. 
-Mu'tamid, Khalif, 58. 


Nahala, 122. 
Nero, 39. 
Nikomachos, 38. 
Notker Labeo, 70. 
Nur al-Din (Zangi), 



Obtatianus, 38. 

Papias, 147. 
Paulisa, 20. 


Sa'atus, 20. 

Salah al-DIn, called Saladin, 75. 
Schlesinger, Miss K., 9, 23-4, 30, 
- 44, 46, 119, 149-50, 154. 
Schmidt, W., 159. 
Schott, G., 167. 
Schiitterus, J., 32. 
Schwab, M., 42, 44. 
Seidel, J. J., 144-5, 149. 
Septuagint. 2, 8, 43. 
Severus, 38. 
Seybold, O. F., 4. 
Shakespeare, 2. 
Shim'on ben Gamaliel, 41. 
Shim'on ben Laqish. 42. 

Pepin, King, 47, 141, 149, 151, 153. Shmuel. See Mar Shmuel. 

Petronius, 38. 
Pfeiffer, A., 36. 
Philo Judseus, 25. 

Silvester, Pope, 155-7. 
Smith, R. Payne, 52. 
Smith, W., 141. 

Philon, 15-8, 20, 38-9, 55, 79-80, Solomon b. Yichaq, called Rashi, 
117, 151. 30, 34, 37. 


Index No. 1. 

Stainer, J., 42. 
Stesichoros, 18. 
Steele, R., 120, 124. 
Strabo, Walafrid, 143. 
Stuttgart Codex, 70. 
Synesius, 45. 

Talmud, 2, 8, 24, 38, 41-2, 44, 50, 

Tannery, Paul, 3, 15. 
Targurns, 2,_24, 42. 
TasbkoprI Zade. See Ahmad ibn 

Mustafa, called Tashkopri Zade. 
Tasitus, 19. 
Telestes, 2. 
Temistius, 122-8. 
Tertullian, 13, 38. 
Thabit b. Qurra, 14, 56. 
Thales, 18. 

Thasltus, Thastiyus, 19. 
Themistius, 123. 
Theodore, 147. 
Theodoret, 45-6. 
Theodosius, 46, 70. 
Theophilus Monachus, 70. 
Thorndike, Lynn, 124. 
Trajan, 39. 
Tyndale, 1. 


Ugolinas, B., 21, 44. 
'Ulayya, Princess, 57. 
Utrecht Psalter, 154. 


Valentinian III. 39. 
Vaux, Baron Carra de, 16, 17, 19, 
55, 106. 136. 

Vitalian, Pope, 147. 

Vitruvius, 38, 40, 52, 115, 119, 127, 

135, 148-9. 
Voltaire, 139. 
Vossius, 13. 
Vulgate, 1, 2. 


Wang chung wen hung chi, 76. 
-Wathiq, Khalif, 60. 
Warman, 11. 13, 155. 
Wiedemann, E., 63, 70, 98, 107, 

William of Malmesbury, 156-7. 
Wolfram von Eschenbach, 140. 
Woodcroft, Bennet, 159. 
Wulstan, 138. 
Wiinsche, A., 44. 
Wyclif, 1. 


Yahya b. AbI_Mansur, 87. 
Yahya b L Isma'Il (Abu Zakariyya) 

al-BayasI, 75, 117. 
Ya'qub b. Ishaq (Abu Yusuf) al- 

Kindi, 73. 
Yayastayus, 19. 
Yuan shih, 76. 
Yuhanna b. al-Batriq, 19, 120. 


Zakariyya b. Muhammad (Abu 
Yahya) al-Qazwini, 151. 

-Zarqali. See Ibrahim_ b. Yahya 
(Abu Ishaq) al-Naqqash, called 

Zosimos, 13. 




Abbuba, 49. 

Ala, 127, 128, 135. See Arl^a, 

Ar[c~]a. 52, 127, 135. See Ala, Tan- 
nur, Bomiskos. 

Arcula, 115. See Bukba. 

Auloi, 161. 


Bab mathun, 100, 102. See Pallet. 

Bagpipe, 9. 

Bankam, 157. See Klepsydra. 

Barbiton. See Ma'azif. 

Bell, 29, 36. See Cymbalum, cel- 

Blthun, 66. See Epistomiurn. 
Bomiskos, 52, 127, 135, 160. See 

Ar\_c~\a, Ala, Tannur. 


Celcal, 29. See Bell, Cymbalum. 
Gervicida, 115. See 'Unq. 
Gheirorganon, 5. 
Chithara, 4. See Cithara, Qltar, 

Cithara, 48. See Chithara, QUar, 

Qphunutha, 48. See Symphonia. 
Cymbalum, 27. See Mciltaim. 


Buff, 157. See Tambourine. 
Dulcimer, 54. See Psanter. 



Flute, 29, 32, 54. See Halil, Nay, 
Shabdb, Shabbdba, Saffara. 

Gurgrana, 41. 
Ghina', 6, 69. 



Biaboa, habbat al-musawiuita, 85 
92, 94, 105, 112-3, 116. See 

HacoQereth. 27. See Trumpet 

llalil, 29, 32. See Flute. 

Hanndna, 117. 

Harp, 1, 8, 27, 54. See Jank. 

Iledhrula, 6, 44, 48, 52. See 

Ilirdabulis, 41. See Hirdaulis, 

Hirdaulis, 38, 41-2. See Hy- 

Horn, 29, 49. See Qarna, Sho- 

Using lung shena, 76. 

Hydraulic Organ, 3, 4, 13-5, 
79-118, 165-7. 

Hydraulis, 2-21, 35, 38-44, 48-53, 
119-38, 143-57, 159-64 

Epistomiurn, 166. See Blthun. 

Idrablis, 38. See Irdablis, Hir- 

Infundibulum inversum, 115, 127. 
See Pnigeus, Unbub. 

Iqd', 75, 88. 105. See Rhythm. 

Irdablis, 42. See Idrablis, Hir- 


Index No. 2. 


Jank 'ajaml, 74. See Harp. 


Kennara, 49. See Lyre, Kinnor. 
Kettledrum, 36. See Timpanum. 
Keys, 166. 

Kinnor, 27. See Kennara, Lyre. 
Klepsydra, 12-4 17, 80. See Ban- 
kam Water-clock. 
Korablin, 43. 
Kurra, 91-2. 


Pallet, 100, 102. See Bab mathun. 

Piano, 2. See Psanter. 

Pipe, 1-3. See Zamr, Surnay, 
Mizmar, Abbuba. 

Plinthion achordon, 5. 

1'linthion auletichon, 6, 41. 

Pneumatic Organ, 7-11, 21-38, 
46-8, 54-73, 139-57. 

Pnigeus, 127, 135-6. See Infundi- 
bulum inversum, unbub. 

Psalmos, 1. 

Psalterion, Psalterium, 1, 4. 

Psaltery, 74. See Psalterion, 

Psanter, 2. See Piano. 

L(din (melody, music), 68-9. 

Litlguce, 46. See Sliders. 

Lute, 167. See 'Vd. 

Lute strings, 111-2. 

Lyre, 27. See Kinnor, Kennara. 

Qanun misrl, 74. See Psaltery. 
Qarna, 49. See Horn. 
Qltar, 2. See Cithara. 
Qithara, 48. See Qltar. 


Ma'azif (sing, mi'zafa, mi'zaf), 
107, 117. See Psaltery, Barbi- 

Magrephah, 25-38, 44. 

Mashroqitlia, 22. 

Mausul, 157. 

Mciltaim, 27. 

Megiston organon, 5. 

Minim, 2. 

Mizmar, 3, 69, 94, 116-7, 157. 

Mughanni, 6. 

Mukhannath (pi. mukhannathun), 
6. 44. 

Musical Tree, 139-40. 


Nagham, 69. 

Nauba, 108 

Nay, 14, 69, 80, 85, 110, 157. 

Nay t atari, 74. 

Nehel, 27. See Harp. Tunbiir. 

N'imah, 42. 



Bababa, 157. 
Rebec. See Bababa. 
Regal, 146. 
llhyton, 15. 
Rhythm. See Iqa'. 
Bo'tta, 4. 

Bukba, 91, 115. See Solera Pat- 


Saffara, 14, 117. See Flute. 

Shabab, Shabbdba, 53, 157. See 

■ Flute. 

Shahrud, 157 

Sha'lra, Sha'irat al-mizmdr, 66, 

116, 133, 136. See Haoba. 
Shir, 29. 

Shophar, 29. See Horn, Qarna. 
Sliders, 46, 72, 136, 162. 
Solen plagion, 115. See Bukba. 
Sound Box. See Sha'lra, Habba. 
Surnay, 69, 92, 98, 100-1, 105, 

108-10. _ See Mizmar. 
Symphonia, 48. See Cphunutha. 
Syrinx, 39-40. 

Organon, Organum (a pipe), 1-3; 

(stringed instrument), 4-5 ; (gen- Tabla, 41. 

eric term), 5; (species of com- Tambourine, 54. See Buff. 

position), 6. Tannur, 52, 135. See Ala, Ar[c}a. 


Index No. 2. 

Tarklb, 69-70, 73. See Organum 

(species of composition). 
Timpanum, 4. See Kettledrum. 
Trigonon, 3. 

Trumpet, 27. See Hacocereth. 
Tunbur, 157. 



Water-Clock. See Klepsydra, Ban- 

Water-Organ. See Hydraulis. 
Wind-Chest. See Rukba. 


'Vd, 75, 107. 110. See Lute. Zammdra, 44. 

'Vd jilliql, 74. Zamr, 14, 75, 80, 88, 104, 107. 

'Ugab, 1-2, 8, 42. Zemara, 47. 

TJnbub, 64, 127, 135. SeePnigeus, Zimri, 44. 

Infundibulum inversum. Ziqq, 64, 107, 129. 

'Unq, 91, 115. See C'ervicula. Ziqq rumi or zauqi, 127, 131. 



age 23, 

line 35 

» 24, 

„ 25.- 

„ 34, 

„ 31.- 

,, 38, 

„ !•- 

„ 48, 

„ 8- 

,, 50, 

„ 21.- 



















„ 76, 

„ 33 

,, 83, 

„ 13 

„ 116, 

„ 15 

,, H7, 

„ 5. 

„ 118, 

„ 1 

„ 124, 

„ 25 

„ 136, 

„ W 

» 142, 

„ 33 

„ 143, 

„ 29 

» 151. 

„ 6 

„ 169, 

„ 25 

-For "The Organ, 3" read "The Organ, 4." 
For "reveal" read "reveals." 
After "(d. 1200)" add " Idelsohn (Jewish 
Music, 496) says, — ' Magrephah is derived 
from grophith reed.' " 
For "or hydraulic organ" read "or to the 
hydraulic organ." 
— For " Apollinarus " read " Apollinaris." 

After " century " add " There is the well-known 
diptych of Anastasius of Constantinople 
(a.d. 517), which may represent an hydraulis, 
but we cannot be sure that these diptychs 
represent contemporary manners and cus- 
toms. As in the contorniates, there is a 
tendency to copy earlier designs." 
■For " Apollonius " read " Apollonios." 
For "Qusta" read " Qusta." 
For "Apollonius" read "Apollonios." 
For " ibn Muzaffar " read " ibn al-Muzaffar." 
, — For " Bernelius " read " Bernelinus." 
— After "enquiry" add "In the section on 
mechanical instruments in his Ihsd al-'uliim, 
known in Europe as De scientiis, Al-Farabi 
refers to mechanical instruments of music, 
which would include the various kinds of 
,—For "158" read "157." 
. — For " Wiedermann " read "Wiedemann." 
. — After " with " add " what appear to be." 
— Delete bracket after " hannandt." 
. — For " Asturlabi " read " Asturlabi." 
. — For "has" read "have." 
, — For "qist" read " aqsdt (sing, qist)." 
—For '14" read "18." 
. — For "translations" read "editions." 
.—After "that" add "works by." 
and 27.— For " Evliyya " read " Evliya." 


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